Lagos Colony     

1889 - 1906


Lagos was a Yoruba settlement of Awori people initially called Oko. The Portuguese explorer Rui de Sequeira visited the area in 1472, naming the area around the city Lago de Curamo; indeed the present name is Portuguese for "lakes". Another explanation is that Lagos was named for Lagos, Portugal - a maritime town which at the time was the main centre of the Portuguese expeditions down the African coast and whose own name is derived from the Latin word Lacobriga.

From 1404-1889 it served as a major centre of the slave trade, ruled over by Yoruba kings called the Oba of Lagos. In 1841 Oba Akitoye ascended to the throne of Lagos and tried to ban slave trading. Lagos merchants, most notably Madam Tinubu, resisted the ban, deposed the king and installed his brother Oba Kosoko.

While exiled, Oba Akitoye met with the British, who had banned slave trading in 1807, and got their support to regain his throne. In 1851 he was reinstalled as the Oba of Lagos




Lagos was formally annexed as a British colony in 1861. This had the dual effect of crushing the slave trade and establishing British control over palm and other trades.


The remainder of modern-day Nigeria was seized in 1887, and when the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria was established in 1914, Lagos was declared its capital. It continued to be the capital when Nigeria gained its independence from Britain in 1960.

The badge of Lagos was the badge common for all parts of British West Africa and consisted of an elephant before a palm tree in a mountainous landscape. For Lagos the letter L was added in base.


Lagos City



Lagos was the capital of Nigeria from 1914 up to 1991; it was stripped of this title when the Federal Capital Territory was established at the purpose-built city of Abuja.



The arms of Lagos city were based on the badge and they consisted of the palmtree in a golden field  under a chief Vert with an elephant proper. It is not known how long these arms were used if they were used at all.


Lagos Federal District




A Lagos Federal District was created on 7 July 1954. Its achievement consists of a shield tierced in pall with the presidential cap as a crest. Two palm trees serve as supporters and the motto reads JUSTICE AND PROGRESS.


Lagos State

1967 - present



Lagos State was created on May 27, 1967 by State (Creation and Transitional Provisions) Decree No. 14 of 1967, which restructured Nigeria’s Federation into 12 states. Prior to this, Lagos Municipality had been administered by the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Lagos Affairs as the regional authority, while the Lagos City Council (LCC) governed the City of Lagos. Equally, the metropolitan areas (Colony Province) of Ikeja, Agege, Mushin, Ikorodu, Epe and Badagry were administered by the Western Region. The State took off as an administrative entity on April 11, 1968 with Lagos Island serving the dual role of being the State and Federal Capital. However, with the creation of the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja in 1976, Lagos ceased to be the capital of the State which was moved to Ikeja. Equally, with the formal relocation of the seat of the Federal Government to Abuja on 12 December 1991, Lagos Island ceased to be Nigeria’s political capital.


For the purpose the achievement was modified by exchanging the presidential cap for the Nigerian eagle crest after the model of the crests of all other states created in 1967.


© Hubert de Vries, 2009.04.07