Deba monarchy is one of the oldest traditional monarchical systems in Nigeria. It was founded long before the scramble and partition of West Africa in 1885, long before Usman Danfodio jihad in the 17th and 18th century, and even long before the coming of the colonial masters to Africa in the 15th century. Its monarchy was established in 1375 with its first monarch or King called Kuji in Nyimatli language. The Mishelku’s group (i.e. the royal descendants) who were said to have migrated from Middle East brought with them animals, spears, a copy of the holy book of (Quran) and assorted kinds of clothes and met the aborigines group such as Bu̱rnyi and Shaba with Bu̱rnggu̱na as their head. As the leadership group began to expand, the title of kuji (king) was introduced as the administrative head of Deba.

The first monarch known as Kuji Pilɓangmu ruled from 1375 A.D. to 1384 A.D. and wielded power over his territory with its boundaries at a town known as Kalshingi in the west to Jagali in the east, and from Ɗola in the north to Panda in the southern part of the present Gombe state.

Deba empire was made up of many different settlements before the middle of 14th century A.D. when the settlements were amalgamated under the leadership of Kuji Pilɓangmu. As an autonomous kingdom in its own right, thirty two kings ruled Deba kingdom as monarchs from Kuji Pilɓangmu 1375 A.D. to Kuji Buba Maji 1897 before colonialism debunked it and reduced it to the status of a village head. It is important to state here that this relegation consequently reduced Deba territory to its present stage. Deba was never conquered or subjugated by any ethnic group in history, but has consistently resisted many invasions into its domain. Thus the famous Usman Danfodio jihad had little impact on the administrative existence of Deba. Oral tradition shows that during the reign of kuji Maji (1882 1897), the Emir of Misau, Mai Saleh attempted to attack Deba but proved abortive. Mai Saleh was subsequently killed during his second expedition at Tula Wange in 1898.

Deba has maintained a cordial relationship with its neighbours from time immemorial. For instance, apart from serving as cradle of civilization among other Tera and non-Tera ethnic communities, it was strategically located as center of commence and linked Gombe to the South East with Tangale Waja and other communities. Traders from faraway places like Kano and Borno came to transact in slaves and other commodities in Deba town through the well established caravan route. Perhaps this could be one of the reasons of its close relationship with Gombe Emirate. Thus, during the reign of Muhammadu Kwairanga, the Emir of Gombe (1844-1882), he was said to have gotten married to a Deba princes daughter of Kuji Atuman. Furthermore, Haruna the seventh Emir of Gombe was said to have married Halima, the daughter of kuji Zaura the 33rd kuji of Deba. Similarly, Atiku, a son to Galadiman Gombe took his wife from Deba, and were blessed with children among whom was the late Alh Muhammadu, the district head of Akko. The British occupation of Gombe in 1903 after the defeat of Sultan Attahiru Ahmadu 1 at the battle of Bormi brought Deba kingdom under the Gombe Emirate in 1907. However, Deba continued to maintain its status as chiefdom with envoys being sent to supervise the ban of slave trade in the area, starting with Galadima Bubawa who was later deposed by the British for financial allegations. Therefore, Galadima Barunde was posted as an envoy to Deba until 1921 when the district headquarters was transferred to Kumo. In-between that period Yerima Jalo acted as envoy in Deba for some months before his transfer to Waja district, and was later removed from office for financial allegation. It is important to note that the making of Deba as the district headquarters of Akko was ascribed to the urban nature of Deba as it is more cosmopolitan than any other settlement in Gongola valley. In addition, it was strategically located on traffic junction connecting Gombe with Adamawa state through Numan. By and large, it is among the largest trading centers that earned the town the name “Deba Birnin Tera.” In a nutshell, Deba has never been part of the Emirate system until 1907 when the British brought it under Gombe Emirate for the purpose of indirect rule system. Later, the administrative reforms initiated by the British colonial authorities led to the creation of Yamaltu district in 1936 comprising all the 14 Tera settlements (i.e. Deba, Hinna, Kurɓa, Gwanyi, Zambuk, Difa, Kwali, Kinafa, Waɗe, Shinga, Luɓo, Kwadon, Liji, and Lano) used under Galadiman Gombe. The administrative reform which cut across the northern Nigeria was to make tribes more autonomous. This development brought the transfer of other Tera towns (i.e, Gwanyi Enclave comprising Gwanyi, Shinga, Waɗe and Hinna), which were in Biu division back to Gombe division in 1935. The aim was to make Tera ethnic groups into a single kingdom with its constituted village areas a potential heir apparent to the throne of district head of the newly created Yamaltu district. However, the appointment of the district head of Yamaltu was delayed until 1950 because of power tussle among the potential contenders (i.e. Deba and Gwanyi). The choice of village head of Gwanyi was favoured amidst protest. Deba therefore, continue to remain as village area under the district head of Yamaltu until 1977 when Deba district was created alongside Pindiga. As a result of that, more hamlets within Deba district were upgraded to the status of village areas. In addition, the district head of Deba was equally addressed as Sarkin Deba and Hakimin Deba to differentiate him from other district heads that were appointed by the Emir of Gombe. This development made Sarkin Deba to become a member of Gombe Emirate council until the year 2000 when the status of the district head was upgraded to an Emir. The chronicles of Deba monarchs, village heads, district heads and Emirs listed below depicts the high position Deba monarchs occupied before the coming of the colonial masters and the subsequent unfortunate relegations of this monarchial system to village head and the subsequent raising of this famous empire to the status of Emirate.



Pilɓangmu C. 1375-1384
2 Wafuɗa 1384-1398
3 Boshom Pilɓangmu 1398-1415
4 Bamtala Wafuɗa 1415-1428
5 Zhomzhom 1428-1439
6 Ghafa Boshom 1439-1457
7 Yema Zuri Boshom 1457-1472
8 Zhana Zhomzhom 1472-1492
9 Ghwara zhomzhom 1492-1504
10 Njong Khundi 1504-1519
11 Ruma Zhana 1519-1522
12 Bara Yema Zuri 1522-1538
13 Maji Dakidaki Ruma 1538-1558
14 Mele Ghwara Bara 1558-1565
15 Vama Bara 1565-1575
16 Gwalam Maji Dakidaki 1575-1587
17 Jimdimi Mele Ghwara 1587-1599
18 Nggazhi Nggazhi Vama 1599-1612
19 Tundum Gwalam 1612-1627
20 Gomtol Nggazhi Nggazhi 1627-1638
21 Maikada Tundum 1638-1653
22 Ali Maikada 1653-1693
23 Zaura Ainaɓa Gomtol 1693-1754
24 Maji Zaura Ainaɓa I 1754-1765
25 Mele Aisa Zan 1765-1790
26 Jipi Zaura Ainaɓa 1790-1800
27 Zaura Zuma Dake 1800-1852
28 Atuman Mele Aisa Zan 1852-1856
29 Wana atuman 1856-1866
30 Maji Zaura Zuma Dake II 1866-1882
31 Mari Maji 1897-1916


1 Zaura Buba 1916-1950
2 Maji Buba III 1950-1957
3 Usman Maji 1957-1976


1 Usman Maji 1977-1984
2 Col. Abubakar Waziri Mahdi (Rtd) 1984-2000


1 Lt. Col. Abubakar Waziri Mahdi (Rtd) 2000-2007
2 QS. Ahmad Usman Mohammed 2017 – to date




1. Shengete Tera Yemen Deba
Fulani Katsina Daji
Kanuri Borno Zongomari
Waja Balanga Dangi waja
Hausa Daura Tudunwada Ilu
2. Borna Tera Yeman Deba/Rarab
Fulani Dukku Wuro Maccu
Waja Balanga Awak
Awak Kaltungo Rarab Awak
3. Kuto Tera Yemen Deba
Fulani Adamawa Saruje
Hausa Zamfara/Sokoto Zamfarawa
Kanuri Borno Saruje Bare bari
4. Nono Fulani Katagum Nono
Tera Yemen Rarab
Hausa Katsina/Sokoto Nono Mal. Isa
Tangale Kaltungo Kidda Adoni
Bolawa Fika Garin Tafida
5. Lano Tera Yemen Lano
Waja Balanga Lano
Hausa Katsina/Kano Ge-Lano (Dumbu)
6. Lambam Tera Yemen Lambam
Waja Balanga Ge – Lambam (Kuntaru)
Hausa Katsina/Sokoto Lambam, Ge – Lambam
7. Kanawa Fulani Adamawa Jannawo/Kanawa
Kanuri Borno Poli
8. Wuro Birdeka Tera Yemen Amatai
Waja Balanga Tila
Tagale Billiri Jagali
Fulani Adamawa Wuro Malami
9. Kunnuwol Fulani Adamawa Kunnuwol
Waja Balanga Jamari
10. Kuri Hausa Katsina/Zamfara Kuri
Tera Yemen Kuri
11. Wajari Tera Yemen
Waja Balanga
Hausa Sokoto/Zamfara