Timeline of Nigerian history

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This is a timeline of Nigerian history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in Nigeria and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see History of Nigeria. See also the list of heads of state of Nigeria.

Centuries: 9th · 10th · 15th · 16th · 17th · 18th · 19th · 20th · 21st

9th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1000 The reign of the Kingdom of Nri began.

11th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1100 The Islamic state of Borno was established.

12th century[edit]

13th century[edit]

14th century[edit]

15th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1500 The nominally Muslim Hausa Kingdoms kingdoms were established in Northern Nigeria.

16th century[edit]

17th century[edit]

18th century[edit]


19th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1880 The conquest of Southern Nigeria by the British began.
1900 The Sokoto Caliphate was established through jihad.
The Sokoto Caliphate went to war against the Yoruba states
Christian missionary activity began in Southern Nigeria.

20th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1901 Anglo-Aro war: The war began. The Aro Confederacy began to decline. (to 1902)
1902 Anglo-Aro war: The war ended.
1903 The British conquered most of Northern Nigeria, including the Sokoto Caliphate.
1905 The British conquest of Southern Nigeria ended.
1912 Lord Lugard, Governor of Northern Nigeria, established a system of indirect rule.
1914 Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria were amalgamated into Nigeria.
1918 The Adubi War is fought in Egba Land.
1946 Nigeria entered a period of decolonization and growing Nigerian nationalism.
1950 A conference of northern and southern delegates was held in Ibadan.
1953 A conference regarding Nigeria's federal formula was held in London.
1957 Nigeria held a Constitutional conference.
1959 Nigeria holds its first national election to set up an independent government. Northern politicians won a majority of seats in the Parliament.
1960 The period of nationalism and decolonization ended.
1 October Nigeria gained independence from Britain under Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa and President Nnamdi Azikiwe.
1963 1 October Nigeria severed its remaining ties to Britain, marking the birth of the Nigerian First Republic.
1964 1 December A national election was held.
1966 15 January A military coup deposed the government of the First Republic. Balewa, Premier of Northern Nigeria Ahmadu Bello, and Finance Minister Festus Okotie-Eboh, were assassinated.
16 January The Federal Military Government was formed, with General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi acting as head of state and Supreme Commander of the Federal Republic.
29 July A counter-coup by military officers of northern extraction deposed the Federal Military Government. Aguiyi-Ironsi and Adekunle Fajuyi, Military Governor of the Western Region, were assassinated. General Yakubu Gowon became President.
1967 Violence between the Christian Igbo people and the Muslim Hausa and Fula people in Eastern and Northern Nigeria triggered a migration of the Igbo back to the East.
30 May Nigerian-Biafran War: General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria, declared his province an independent republic called Biafra.
1970 8 January Ojukwu fled into exile. His deputy Philip Effiong became acting President of Biafra
15 January Effiong surrendered to Nigerian forces. Biafra was reintegrated into Nigeria.
1973 22 January A plane crashed in Kano, Nigeria, killing 176 people.
1975 29 January General Yakubu Gowon was overthrown in a bloodless coup. General Murtala Mohammed became Head of State.
1976 13 February Mohammed was assassinated on his way to work. His deputy, Lieutenant-General Olusegun Obasanjo, became Head of State and set a date to end military rule.
1979 Shehu Shagari won election to the Executive Presidency of the American-style Second Republic.
1 October Shagari was sworn in as President.
1983 Shagari won reelection.
31 December Shagari's government was ejected from power in a palace coup, marking the end of the Second Republic. General Muhammadu Buhari became Head of State and Chairman of the Supreme Military Council of Nigeria.
1984 17 April The Buhari regime promulgated Decree No. 4, the "Public Officer's Protection Against False Accusation" Decree, which made it an offence to ridicule the government by publication of false information.
1985 August Buhari was overthrown in a palace coup. General Ibrahim Babangida became Head of State and President of the Armed Forces Ruling Council of Nigeria.
1990 April Middle Belt Christian officers, led by Major Gideon Orkar, attempt to overthrow Babangida in an unsuccessful coup.
1992 Two political parties, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC) ware established by Babangida in an attempt to return to civilian rule.
1993 12 June Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola won a presidential election. Babangida annulled the results.
26 August Babangida stepped down due to pressure from the Armed Forces Ruling Council. Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan assumed power as Interim Head of State.
17 November Shonekan was forced to resign from office. Defence Minister Sani Abacha became Head of State and established the Provisional Ruling Council of Nigeria.
1995 13 March The Abacha administration arrested Obasanjo for allegedly supporting a secret coup plot.
10 November Human and environmental rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged with eight others.
1998 8 June Abacha died from a heart attack. Abdusalami Abubakar became Head of State and Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council of Nigeria and lifted the ban on political activity.
15 June Obasanjo was released from prison.
1999 10 February Obasanjo was elected President.
29 May Obasanjo was sworn in, ushering in the Fourth Republic.
19 December Obasanjo ordered the Nigerian Armed Forces to raid the town of Odi in the Niger Delta, in response to the murder of twelve policemen by local militia.
2000 27 January Sharia was established in the predominantly Muslim state of Zamfara.
May Religious riots erupted in Kaduna over the implementation of sharia.
5 June The Obasanjo administration established the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to tackle human and ecological issues in the Niger Delta region of Southern Nigeria.

21st century[edit]

Year Date Event
2002 Religious riots erupt over the Miss World pageant due to be hosted in Abuja.
10 October The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled against Nigeria in favor of Cameroon over the disputed oil-rich Bakassi peninsula territory.
2003 April Obasanjo won reelection as President.
29 May Obasanjo was sworn in for a second term as President.
2004 Obasanjo declared a state of emergency in response to the eruption of ethnoreligious violence in Plateau State.
2006 16 May The National Assembly of Nigeria voted against a Constitutional amendment to remove term limits.
13 June Obasanjo met with Cameroonian President Paul Biya and Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Anan in New York City to resolve a dispute over Bakassi.
1 August Nigerian troops began to pull out of Bakassi.
March through August Seveal building collapse in Lagos killing 27 people
2007 15 March The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the names of twenty-four approved candidates for the presidential elections.
21 April Umaru Yar'Adua, Governor of Katsina State, was elected President of Nigeria.