Nigerian Army: History, Ranks, Logo And More

This article is about the history of the Nigerian Army. The Nigerian Army is one of the most powerful ground forces in Africa and it also ranks among the best military forces on the continent. As we proceed, we will take a detailed look at the Nigerian Army, its history, its ranks, its flag bearing its logo, and other interesting information there is to know about this unique aspect of our gallant armed forces.

Nigerian Army, History, Ranks, Logo and More


The Nigerian Army is a very important part of our military which operates on the land and helps to protect and defend her territorial integrity on land. If you want to apply for Nigerian Army DSSC and SSC recruitment programme, you can do well to click the link provided to check for your eligibility and the requirements. Having said that, let us now fix our attention on the history of our military ground force.


The Nigerian Army, NA, as it is known today was established in 1960 as the most prominent aspect of the Nigerian Military and it is controlled by the Nigerian Army Council, NAC. Its primary function is to defend Nigeria’s land territory in the case of war and ensure its territorial integrity at all land borders of the country.

The founding of the NA can be traced to the Royal West African Frontier Force, RWAFF, which was established in 1900 when our country was still under British Colonial Rule. Throughout the course of the duration of World War II, which lasted between 1939 – 1945, and was the all time deadliest conflict in human history, Nigerian troops, trained by Great Britain, under the 1st (West Africa) Infantry brigade, as well as the 81st and 82nd (West Africa) Divisions fought against the Italians at the East African Campaign of World War II and in the Far East, in Burma, now Myanmar against the Japanese.

Over the course of time, there has been several name changes from what it used to be called to the Nigerian Army in the year 1960, just after Nigeria became independent of Great Britain. Name changes from the Royal West African Frontier Force, RWAFF in the early 1900s, to the Nigerian Regiment during the Second World War, to the Nigerian Military Force in 1958 and to its current name, NA, which took effect from 1960 and has remained to this day.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Army and all the armed forces in the country is the President of Nigeria and the highest ranking military officer in the NA is the Chief of Army Staff, COAS. The COAS reports to the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, while the CDS reports to the Minister of Defence, who in turn reports to the President.

Presently, the Nigerian army has up to 6000 officers and more than 150,000 soldiers, and it has participated a number of wars and peacekeeping missions in Africa to date. Notable wars and missions both in and out if the country include the Nigerian Civil War which lasted between 1967 – 1970 and the Congo Crises that took place between 1960 – 1965. Some other notable missions embarked upon by the Nigerian Army are the First Liberian Civil War (1989 -1997), the Second Liberian Civil War (1999 – 2003) and the Sierra Leone Civil War (1991 – 2002). The NA was very active in containing the militantancy in the Niger Delta and is currently tackling the Boko Haram Insurgency that started since 2009.

The Nigerian Army was prominent member of the ECOWAS Monitoring Group, ECOMOG, a military alliance which existed among member countries of the ECOWAS to help one another during peace keeping missions and to strengthen military ties among member countries. The organization is now defunct. The Nigerian Army was actively involved in military coup d’etats and counter coups in the country between 1966 and 1999 but has since restored democracy as it should be in the country.

After the Nigerian Civil War ended, the Nigerian Army had 3 Divisions which were later reorganized to 4 Divisions.  Each, controlling the four territories in Nigeria in order to put an end to the initial regional structure which Nigeria had. The 4 Divisions were organized such that each of them could access the sea, making logistic support and triservice cooperation very easy.

However, with the emergence of Sectors, all 4 Divisions were renamed, leading to 1 Division being named the North-West Sector, with its headquarters in Kaduna, Kaduna State. 2 Division was named South-West Sector, with its headquarters in Ibadan, Oyo State, 3 Division having its headquarters at Jos, was named North-East Sector while the 82 Division, also called the South-East Sector has its headquarters in Enugu, Enugu State.

32 Artillery Brigade which was situated in Abeokuta, the Capital City of Ogun State was under command of the Nigerian Army 2nd Division in Ibadan. 2 Division also controls the 4 Brigade situated in Benin City, Edo State, the 195 Battalion in Agenebode, Edo State and the 19 battalion located at Okitipupa, Ondo State. Its signal unity is the 52 Signal Regiment.

The 3rd Armoured Division is headquartered in Rukuba Cantonment, Jos, the Capital of Plateau State and it includes the 33 Artillery Brigade in Bauchi, Bauchi State, the 23 Brigade in Yola, Adamawa State and the 21 Armoured Brigade in Maiduguri, the Borno State Capital. The 81st Airborne and Amphibious Division headquartered in Lagos is under the command of the 9th Brigade which is situated at Ikeja military cantonement.

Also, the 82nd Division in Enugu commands the 34 Artillery Brigade located at Obinze, Owerri, Imo State, the 13th Brigade located in Calabar, Cross River State and the 2 Brigade located in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Capital. The Composite Division in Enugu was renamed the 4th Infantry Division in 1964.

There are Nigerian Army Garrison Commands in Lagos and Abuja and the Lagos Garrison is so large that it can be compared to a division.  The 81 Division, established in 2002, is the youngest division of the NA in the country and its formation was because of the upgrade of the Lagos Garrison Command to full Division.


The Nigerian military comprises of over 1,400 armoured vehicles, 6,000 logistics vehicles, 360 tanks, about 300 aircrafts, and 25 high-powered naval vessels. Collectively, the Nigerian Armed Forces, which comprises of the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Airforce are responsible for protecting citizens of the country from both internal and external threats as well as maintaining Nigeria’s structural and territorial integrity.

The Nigerian Army as earlier mentioned is responsible for maintaining the peace on land, enforcing the law, and co-ordinating of humanitarian missions. The Nigerian Navy guards, protects and defends Nigeria’s territorial waters as well as her internal waterways, and embarks on rescue missions whenever necessary while the Nigerian Airforce provides air support, and is responsible for other air missions that are in the best interests of the country.


According to our featured image, the Nigerian Army has its flag which carries its logo or symbol that distinguishes it from the other major armed forces in the military. The logo features the image of an eagle at the top of a shaded six-pointed star with an Arabic inscription translated as Nasrunminallah, meaning “Victory is from God Alone” on the red-black-red backdrop.

The eagle symbolizes the grace and power of the NA, drawing inspiration from the characteristic of the bird and how really powerful and vigilant the NA is. The star symbolizes the unity of Nigeria. The shadow-like star merging with the yellow one to underline the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates by the Colonial Governor-General of Nigeria, Lord Lugard in 1914.

The Nigerian Army flag has three vertical stripes; red, black and red, all of which are of the same width. The colours follow the NATO military colour code. Red standing for the enemy forces, their installations and their activities, and black symbolizing the cavalry, armoured or mechanized troops.


The Nigerian Army has both non-commissioned and commissioned officers in their ranks and we will begin with the non-commissioned officers, from the lowest rank to the highest rank before we shift our focus to the commissioned ones. Below are given the ranks in the non-commissioned category of the NA.


This is the lowest rank in the NA heirarchy and as their name implies, they have just joined the army. While ecruits do not usually have insignia on their uniforms, trainees could be identified by having just one shoulder mark on their uniforms.


A rank just above that of the recruit/trainee but still one of the lowest ranks in the Nigerian Army. Like trainees, Lance Corporals also have one shoulder mark on their uniforms.


A corporal is an army officer above a lance corporal and a recruit. Corporals can be identified by the two shoulder marks on their uniform.


This is the rank of a junior non-commissioned officer immediately above the corporal, lance corporal and recruit. Sergeants bear three shoulder marks on their uniform.


The staff sergeant is a senior non-commissioned officer in the Nigerian Army. Staff Sergeants are identified with three shoulder marks with a golden eagle on top on their uniforms.


A warrant officer is identified with the insignia of a golden eagle, which is surrounded by the matching golden crown made of olive leaves on the shoulders of their uniforms. Warrant Officers are assistants to Master Warrant Officers, also known as Master Sergeants.


A master warrant officer is the highest ranking army officer in the non-commissioned category of the NA. Master warrant officers are in charge of military equipment, and the symbol on the shoulders of their uniforms is the Nigerian Coat Of Arms comprising of silver horses while everything else on the insignia is golden.

The ranks for the commissioned officers in the Nigerian Army include the following:


This is the first and lowest rank for the commissioned officers. The insignia on the shoulders of the uniforms of Second Lieutenants are one silver star each.


First Lieutenants are directly above the second lieutenants and they bear two vertically aligned silver stars on the shoulders of their uniforms. First lieutenants are deputies to the Captains.


The Captain are above the first and second lieutenants and their rank is the highest rank among the tactical troop organization. The insignia on the shoulders of their uniforms are aligned silver stars.


The Major ranks above the Captain and this rank is lowest field officer rank in the Nigerian Army. Majors bear the symbols of silver eagles on each shoulder of their uniform.


This is a mid-level rank among the field officers. They have a vertically aligned silver stars and a silver eagle on each shoulder of their uniforms. Lieutenant-Colonels are deputies to the Colonels.


A Colonel is a direct subordinate of a Brigadier General and is a direct superior to a Lieutenant-Colonel in rank. The Colonel is the highest ranking field officer in the Nigerian Army. Such officers bear two silver stars as well as a silver eagle, all vertically aligned on each shoulder of their uniforms.


These are commissioned officers who are in charge of commanding brigades. A brigadier-general is superior to the colonel in rank and under the major-general. They bear three silver stars, forming a triangle with a silver eagle at the top. This is visible as you observe the insignia on their shoulders.


This rank of the major-general is a mid-level commissioned officer rank in the NA. They are just above the brigadier-generals and lower than the lieutenant-generals in rank. They bear a golden emblem of the crossed sword as well as a baton below a golden eagle on each shoulder of their uniforms.


This is the third-highest rank in the Nigerian Army. They are just below the rank of full General and Field Marshal. The symbol on the shoulders of their uniforms is a vertically aligned crossed sword and baton, two stars as well as an eagle, all in gold


This rank of General is the second highest rank in the Nigerian Army and it is currently being used as the highest rank in the NA since there is no Field Marshal in the country. Generals bearvertically aligned crossed sword and baton, two stars as well as the eagle, all in gold and on the two shoulders of their uniforms.


This is the highest rank in the Army. This rank has been unattainable so far in the Nigerian Army and one has to have performed extraordinary feats in order to be bestowed with the rank, and since there is no current holder  of the title of Field Marshal in Nigeria, the rank of full General, slightly below it, serves as the highest attainable rank in the NA. The  insignia of the Field Marshal is an emblem of the crossed sword and baton, which is surrounded by two olive branches as well as with an eagle at the top, all in gold and on the two shoulders of their uniform.

The Author

Maduawuchi Obialo

Maduawuchi Obialo is the founder of Nigerian Guide and the Editor-in-Chief at Nigerian Infopedia. He is a professional Web Content Developer and a Biochemist.

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