The Federal Capital Territory also known as FCT was created upon the promulgation of decree number 6 of 1976. It came into existence due to a need to find a replacement for the capital city of Lagos which had become congested and had little space for expansion. The area chosen as the new capital was principally Gwariland with high concentrations of Muslims and Christians and high degree of neutrality from the dominant ethnic groups.

Decree 6 of 1976, gave the federal government rights over land within the territory. The population density prior to the takeover by the government was sparse with a population of 120,000 residents living in 840 villages and mostly of Gwari heritage. Inhabitants were relocated nearby towns like Suleja on the outskirts of the territory.

“Abuja” was in the earlier 20th century the name of the nearby town now called Suleja.

The indigenous inhabitants of Abuja are the Gbagyi (Gwari), with the Gbagyi language formerly the major of the region language, and others in the area being Bassa, Gwandara, Gade, Dibo, and Koro. In light of the ethnic and religious divisions of Nigeria, plans had been devised since Nigeria’s independence to have its capital in a place deemed neutral to all major ethnic parties, and also in close proximity to all the regions of Nigeria. The location was eventually designated in the centre of the country in the early 1970s as it signified neutrality and national unity. Another impetus for Abuja came because of Lagos’ population boom that made that city overcrowded and conditions squalid. As Lagos was already undergoing rapid economic development, the Nigerian regime felt the need to expand the economy towards the inner part of the country, and hence decided to move its capital to Abuja. The logic used was similar to the way Brazil planned its capital, Brasília. The decision to move to Abuja was made by General Murtala Mohammed in 1976. Construction started in the late 1970s but, due to economic and political instability, the initial stages of the city were not complete until the late 1980s.