The British prohibited the enslavement of free persons and suppressed slave trading. All children in the north who were born to persons in bondage on or after April 1, 1900, were declared free. The relations between existing slaves and their owners, however, were allowed to continue indefinitely, on the assumption that wholesale liberation would cause more harm than good by disrupting the agricultural economy. As a consequence, at least several hundred thousand slaves deserted their masters in the early years of colonial rule. In 1906 a radical, allegedly Mahdist, Muslim uprising that received the support of many fugitive slaves was brutally crushed. In the south, slaves legally could be forced to return to their owners until 1914. In the north, vagrancy laws and the enforcement of proprietary rights to land were used to tax to check the flight of slaves. Slaves in the northern emirates could secure their freedom upon application to an Islamic court, but comparatively few used this option. Throughout the colonial period in the Muslim north, many slaves and their descendants continued to work for their masters or former masters and often received periodic payments leading to emancipation.
The Northern Regiment comprised two infantry battalions, a battalion of mounted infantry, and a battery...
The Mahdist revolt which occurred at Satiru in 1906 was suppressed by the troops of the Northern Nigeria Regiment.
An Islamic revolt breaks out in Nigeria in February 1905. The followers of the movement, made up of many slaves and ex-slaves saw the British and French armies as agents of Baggal, a figure of evil who was to appear before the coming of the Madhi, a descendant and servant of the prophet Mohammed who would drive out the non- Muslim invaders. The Madhists won a first battle over the British, even capturing a Gatling machine gun. However, the rebels, like the earlier Madhist movement in the Sudan, refused to use modern weapons which they viewed as evil, preferring to rely on a charge of spear- and sword-armed warriors. In a second battle, the Madhist charge is slaughtered, with 2000 rebels killed, and the rebellion is put down. During the whole war, the traditional Fulani nobility had supported the British, as the Madhist movement threatened their rule as much as it had the rule of the British.