Monday, 31 August 2015

Niger Coast Protectorate (1893 - 1900)

Niger Coast Protectorate Flag
The Niger Coast Protectorate was a British protectorate in the Oil Rivers area of present-day Nigeria, originally established as the Oil Rivers Protectorate in 1884 [read Oil Rivers Protectorate (1884 - 1893)] and confirmed at the Berlin Conference the following year, renamed on 12 May 1893.

In 1894 the territory was redesignated the Niger Coast Protectorate and was expanded to include the region from Calabar to Lagos Colony and Protectorate [read Lagos Colony (1862 - 1906)], including the hinterland, and northward up the Niger River as far as Lokoja, the headquarters of the Royal Niger Company. As a protectorate, it did not have the status of a colony, so its officials were appointed by the Foreign Office and not by the Colonial Office.

In 1896, the Kingdom of Benin [read Benin Empire] halted the trade and supply palm oil. The trade embargo brought trade in the Benin River region to a standstill, and British trading firms quickly appealed to the Protectorate’s Consul-General and in Jan 1897, a military force disguised as a trading negotiation commission was sent to bring down Benin.

The ruse was discovered and the forces were ambushed and only two officers survived. Outraged at their defeat, Rear-Admiral Harry Rawson led a force of 1200 British Marines, sailors and Niger Coast Protectorate Forces called the “Benin Punitive Expedition”. Rawson’s troops captured, burned, and looted Benin City, bringing to an end the Kingdom of Benin. As a result much of the country’s art, including the Benin Bronzes, was either destroyed, looted or dispersed. Benin became part of the Niger Coast Protectorate.

As development proceeded in Nigeria, it soon became obvious that the practice of managing territories through chartered companies could no longer compete with the Government run colonies of the French or Germans. Therefore, the Britain canceled the charter for the Royal Niger Company for the sum of £865,000 and rights to half the mining revenue for 99 years. On 1 Jan 1900, the territories of the Niger basin including the Niger Coast Protectorate were consolidated and the Protectorates of Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria were formed.

Niger Coast Protectorate Badge

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