Sign In


Latest News
How Did Abuja Get Its Name?

How Did Abuja Get Its Name?

As you probably know, Abuja is the Federal Capital Territory. It became the capital city officially in 1991 and is located in the center of Nigeria. But there is a story behind how it started to be called Abuja and that is what we will be looking into in this article. So make sure to read till the end.

Where Was The Federal Capital Territory Carved From?

To get the full gist of the story, we have to first look at how the Federal Capital Territory was created. The FCT was created in 1976 as a result of the need to transfer the capital city from Lagos State, since Lagos had become overly congested and had too little space for any future expansion.

Portions of different states went into the creation of the FCT, old Kwara, Kaduna, Niger, and Plateau States. But most of the landmass that became Abuja was carved from Niger. The tribe that occupied the area taken from Niger State were mostly the Gwari people who had to move. The Federal Government had rights over those lands because of the Decree 6 of 1976.

How Abuja Got Its Name

The place that is currently known as Suleja used to bear the name Abuja. Suleja is a city in Niger State and people sometimes get it mixed up with the current Abuja. Suleja which was originally called Abuja ceded the name ‘Abuja’ to the Federal Government when it was promulgated in 1976 that there would be a Federal Capital Territory. The name was acquired from the then Emir Suleiman Barau.


Let’s take a step back and take a look at the events that led up to this point. So, back in the early 1800s, Fulani invaded Zaria and defeated them. This caused King Muhammed Makau to escape to the South . He fled with his brothers who were known as Abu ja and Abu Kwaka. Abu ja became the king in place of King Makau in 1825.

Abu Ja’s full name was Abubarka but Abu was his nickname while Ja was given to him as a result of his fair complexion. ‘Ja’ actually means ‘red’. Abuja was founded by King Abubarka.

Abuja became a successful kingdom as it waxed strong in the goods exchange business. The Fulanis tried to conquer Abuja again but this time they stood their ground and didn’t fall like the other neighboring lands. The British Colonial army occupied Abuja during 1902 and were the ones who restructured the kingdoms and named them emirates. Abuja stayed a peaceful city up until 1975.

The issue about relocating the capital city from Lagos came up in 1975. They scouted 33 possible sites and settled upon Abuja to become the capital city. Suleiman Barau, who was the then Emir, met with his Emirate Council to discuss the approval of four out of his five districts to become the new capital. They agreed to it but not after some disagreements.

That was how a huge portion of Abuja from Niger state became part of the Federal Capital Territory. Afterwards, the Federal Government asked the Emirate to give up the name “Abuja” which would become the name of the Federal Capital Territory. It caused division among the council yet again, however they agreed in the end.

So the town that was originally called Abuja, the one founded by King Abubakar, was renamed Suleja. Suleja was coined from the Emir’s name Suleiman and Ja from the former king’s name.


That is the story behind how Abuja got its name. Abuja was formed from portions of other states and got its name from the city that is currently called Suleja.

If you enjoyed reading this article, keep following to learn more about the city.

Also check out some of the previous posts you might have missed:

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

two × 5 =

Compare Listings

Title Price Status Type Area Purpose Bedrooms Bathrooms