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Muri Emirate


    Muri, town and traditional emirate, northwestern Taraba state, eastern Nigeria. Originally part of the 17th-century Jukun kingdom called Kororofa, the region now known as Muri emirate was conquered in the 1804 jihad (holy war) conducted by the Fulani people. By 1817 Hamman Ruwa, a brother of the emir of Gombe, an emirate to the north, had consolidated Fulani control over the non-Muslim peoples of the area and placed his territory under Gombe’s jurisdiction. After Ruwa was put to death in 1833 by Gombe’s Emir Buba Yero, the Fulani of the region requested independence from Gombe. Thus founded as an independent emirate in 1833, Muri, which was also known as the Hammaruwa kingdom, was ruled by Ruwa’s descendants from Muri town (often called Hammaruwa) until 1893. Throughout this period, the kingdom paid tribute in slaves to the sultan of Sokoto (the capital of the Fulani empire, 464 miles [747 km] west-northwest).


    Although Emir Muhammadu Nya signed a treaty in 1885 permitting the British Royal Niger Company (1886) to build a trading post at Ibi (104 miles [167 km] southwest of Muri town), troubles with the company and the non-Muslim Jibu people led him to place the emirate under the short-lived (1892–93) French protectorate of Muri. Emir Nya also moved the emirate headquarters in 1893 to Jalingo (40 miles [64 km] east-southeast), a war camp from which he sent sorties against the Mumuye people. The British established firm control over the region in 1900, and Muri emirate was incorporated as the Lau division of Muri province (1900–26). Although Lau town (27 miles [43 km] east) served as the emir’s residence to 1910, and Mutum Biyu (Biu, 42 miles [68 km] south) to 1917, Jalingo has been the seat of the emir since 1917. Muri became part of Muri division in 1915; in 1976 it was assigned to Gongola state, and it became part of the newly formed Taraba state in 1991.


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    The area around Muri town is now mainly inhabited by the Mumuye, Fulani, Wurkum, and Jukun peoples; but there is also a sizable group of Hausa traders. Most of its inhabitants are engaged in farming—staple foods are sorghum and millet—and in raising cattle, sheep, and goats. Cotton and peanuts (groundnuts) are the chief cash crops cultivated in the north, and soya beans and yams are important in the south. There is considerable fishing along the Benue River. Salt extraction is a traditional occupation of the women near Muri town, but imported European salt has reduced its significance. There is lead mining around Zurak, 21 miles (34 km) west of Muri town. The town is linked by local road to Zurak and Karīm Lamido towns and is served by the Benue River port of Nuzu, 11 miles (18 km) east-southeast. Pop. (latest est.) town, 56,570.