The chiefdom of Lere was established in 1808 by a branch of Toronkawa Fulani, known as the Fulanin Wunti-Gyamzo, under the leadership of Malam Muhammadu Dabo Titi. This Fulani group arrived at the Bauchi territory in the late 18th century after moving from Maru in Zamfara. The leader of this Fulani clan settled in the precinct of Zaranda during the pre-jihad period.[c
Having settled at Zaranda for a while, Malam Muhammadu Dabo Titi shifted base to Toro and built his home at a place called Gyamzo. Thus, that was how the group under Muhammadu Dabo Titi got its name Wunti-Gyamzo.
At the commencement of the jihad spearheaded by Shehu Usman Dan Fodio in 1804, Malam Muhammadu Dabo Titi assisted Mallam Yakubu, the flag bearer of the jihad in Bauchi, which resulted in the establishment of Bauchi Emirate in 1805. Malam Muhammadu Dabo Titi was offered the title of Sarkin Yaki by Malam Yakubu, the first emir of Bauchi, but he relinquished the title to his in-law, Muhammadu Kusu, a Filata Borno. Muhammadu Kusu’s descendants and those of Muhammadu Dabo Titi hold the title of Sarkin Yaki (King Maker) and also District Head of Lame successively, in the present Bauchi Emirate to date.
Shortly after a major disagreement ensued between Malam Muhammadu Dabo Titi and the Emir of Bauchi Mallam Yakubu over the imposition of cattle taxes on Fulanin Wunti. The case was referred to Shehu Usman Dan Fodio, who after careful study ordered for the return of the cattle to Titi. Sequel to this a request was again made by Malam Muhammadu Dabo Titi to Shehu Usman Dan Fodio for the transfer of allegiance to Zazzau from Bauchi.
Malam Musa Bamalli, the first emir of Zazzau was a personal friend and teacher to Dabo Titi and his brother Malam Sambo. The Shehu, however, suggested that Dabo Titi relocate to Bukuru, near present-day Jos, Plateau State, where he would be made a flag bearer. But Dabo Titi chose to stay under Malam Musa and remain in his Toro country home. The Shehu granted Dabo Titi’s request for transfer of allegiance and advised firmly that Dabo Titi should accept a vassalage status in Zazzau emirate. The Shehu carved out parts of Bauchi and Zazzau emirates and incorporated them into the new Lere vassal state, marking the creation of Lere chiefdom in 1808.
From the onset, Lere’s territory as engraved by the Shehu covered a vast area within the present Bauchi and Plateau states. To the east, it stretched up to a place called Inkel. Also it extended to River Dilimi and Farar Gada in Jos to the south, while to the north it stretches to Riruwai in Kano state. The western boundary was the Lere river, widely known as River Karami.
The Shehu allowed Dabo Titi to remain in Toro, which did not go down well with Malam Yakubu and so he asked Dabo Titi to move out of the area, when he refused Yakubu marched his forces to Ribina, west of Toro, and made it part of his territory. Ribina was earlier under the rulership of Dabo Titi.
Dabo Titi reported the matter to Malam Musa, the emir of Zazzau, and sought his permission to fight Malam Yakubu so as to reclaim his territory, but Malam Musa urged him to move southwest of Toro and avoid armed conflict, which the Shehu has forbidden among his followers. Dabo Titi moved his headquarters to a place called Kunka, then, inhabited by a tribe called Limoro and consolidated his country and subjects as vassal of Zazzau. Dabo Titi and his people found it difficult to settle in one place because of their large number. They broke up into smaller settlements within the territory they controlled and occupied. Subsequently, the headquarters of Lere vassal state was moved to several places up to the time it was established in its present site in 1870 by Sarkin Lere Muhammadu Dankaka (1857–1907). Sarkin Lere Idris Murabus (1830–1847) founded his base near the rock of Gurba (near Sheni), while his brother Sarkin Lere Mamman (Muhammadu), who ruled from 1850 to 1856 chose a place called Liyanga, which is near present-day Domawa, as his headquarters. Upon his ascension to the throne in 1857, Malam Muhammadu Dankaka founded Masherengi as a unified settlement but was forced to abandon it following a night raid by Sarkin Ningi Dan Maje in 1867 which destroyed the town.
To pacify Malam Yakubu following several agitations, Lafia, which was earlier a vassal of Zazzau was ceded to Bauchi by the Sokoto Caliphate as its vassal in return for Lere in 1812. This exchange resulted in Zazzau emirate having ten vassal states namely Lere, Keffi, Nasarawa, Doma, Jema’a, Lapai, Kajuru, Kauru, Fatika and Durum. The ten vassal states operated independent hereditary leadership succession within their existing ruling houses. Among all these vassal states, however, only Lere has been given the mandate to keep up to a dozen royal drums (Tambura), which indicated the pre-eminence of Lere above the other components. As stated earlier Lere vassal was ruled by the following chiefs:
- Malam Muhammadu Dabo Titi (1808–1830)
- Malam Idris Murabus (1830–1847)
- Malam Aliyu I (1847–1850)
- Malam Mamman (1850–1856)
- Malam Muhammadu Dankaka (1857–1905)
Sequel to the colonial takeover of the Northern Emirates in 1903, the vassalage system was abolished and replaced by districts and provinces. In the course of this re-organisation, substantial parts of Lere Vassal State were merged with Bauchi and Plateau provinces. The remnants which constitutes the present Lere Local Government Area was thus reduced to a district status under a hereditary rulership system (or Sarki) in 1905 during the reign of Muhammadu Dankaka. Consequent to the reduction of Lere vassal to a district status, the following district heads ruled the district.
- Malam Muhammadu Dankaka (1905–1907)
- Malam Abdullahi (1907–1912)
- Malam Abubakar (1912–1915)
- Malam Abdullahi (1915–1918)
- Barden Lere Abdulkarim (Regent) (1918–1920)
In the period of 1907 to 1918, during the reign of Emir of Zazzau Aliyu Dan Sidi, Sarkin Lere Abdullahi and Sarkin Lere Abubakar were alleged to have misappropriated tax and were deposed. Both Sarkin Lere Abdullahi and Sarkin Lere Abubakar were neither given the full status of District Head and were not paid any salary throughout the period of their reign. However, Sarkin Ruwan Zazau Salau, Dan Galadiman Zazzau Abbas and his brother Walin Zazzau Halliru were moderators until 1920. After the removal of Abdullahi for the second time, no chief was appointed for Lere for two years. However, in 1920 Walin Zazzau Halliru was gazetted as District Head of Lere for the period of 1920 to 1924. Since then Lere has the following District Heads posted from Zaria.
- Walin Zazzau Umaru (1925–1946)
- Dallatun Zazau Muhammadu (1946–1951)
- Walin Zazzau Umaru (1951–1968)
- Makaman Zazzau Karami, Alhaji Halliru (1968–1986)
It was also in 1920 that Sarkin Lere Aliyu Mai’Itu was appointed Village Head of Lere. Thus, the following people ruled Lere with a reduced status of village head.
- Malam Aliyu Mai’Itu (1920–1924)
- Malam Musa Ladan (1924–1927)
- Malam Muhammadu Mijinyawa (1927–1942)
- Alhaji Muhammadu Sani (1942–1980)
- Alhaji Umaru Muhammad (1980–1986)