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Muri

MURI, a province of the British protectorate of Northern Nigeria. It lies approximately between 9 and 11 40' E. and 7 10' and 9 40' N. The river Benue divides it through its length, and the portion on the southern bank of the river is watered by streams flowing from the Cameroon region to the Benue. The province is bordered S. by Southern Nigeria, S.E. by German territory (Cameroon), E. by the province of Yola, N. by Bauchi, W. by Nassarawa and Bassa. The district of Katsena- Allah extends south of the Benue . considerably west of 9 E., the approximate limit of the remainder of the province. Muri has an area of 25,800 sq. m. and an estimated population of about 828,000. The province is rich in forest products and the Niger Company maintains trading stations on the river. Cotton is grown, and spinning thread, weaving and dyeing afford occupation to many thousands. The valley of the Benue has a climate generally unhealthy to Europeans, but there are places in the northern part of the province, such as the Fula settlement of Wase on a southern spur of the Murchison hills, where the higher altitude gives an excellent climate. Muri includes the ancient Jukon empire together with various small Fula states and a number of pagan tribes, among whom the Munshi, who extend into the provinces of Nassarawa and Bassa, are among the most turbulent. The Munshi occupy about 4000 sq. m. in the Katsena-Allah district. The pagan tribes in the north of the province are lawless cannibals who by constant outrages and murders of traders long rendered the main trade route to Bauchi unsafe, and cut off the markets of the Benue valley and the Cameroon from the Hausa states. Only two routes, one via Wase and the other via Gatari, pass through this belt. In the south of the province a similar belt of hostile pagans closed the access to the Cameroon except by two routes, Takum and Beli. For Hausa traders to cross the Muri province was a work of such danger and expense that before the advent of British administration the attempt was seldom made.

Muri came nominally under British control in 1900. The principal effort of the administration has been to control and open the trade routes. In 1904 an expedition against the northern cannibals resulted in the capture of their principal fortresses and the settlement and opening to trade of a large district, the various routes to the Benue being rendered safe. In 1905 an expedition against the Munshi, rendered necessary by an unprovoked attack on the Niger Company's station at Abinsi, had a good effect in reducing the riverain portion of this tribe to submission. The absence of any central native authority delayed the process of bringing the province under administrative control. Its government "has been organized on the same system as the rest of Northern Nigeria, and is under a British resident. It has been divided into three administrative divisions east, central and west with their respective headquarters at Lau, Amar and Ibi. Provincial and native courts of justice have been established. The telegraph has been carried to the town of Muri. Muri is one of the provinces in which the slave trade was most active, and its position between German territory and the Hausa states rendered it in the early days of the British administration a favourite route for the smuggling of slaves.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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