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Nigerian Army
File:Nigerian Army crest.gif
Crest of the Nigerian Army
Founded 1960-present
Country Nigeria
Type Army
Headquarters Abuja, Nigeria
Motto(s) Victory is from God alone
Chief of Army Staff Maj General Kenneth Tobiah Minimah [1]

The Nigerian Army (NA) the largest components of Nigerian Armed Forces, with 100,000 professional personnel.[2] The original elements of the Royal West African Frontier Force (RWAFF) in Nigeria were formed in 1900.

During the Second World War, British-trained Nigerian troops saw action with the 1st (West Africa) Infantry Brigade, the 81st and the 82nd (West Africa) Divisions which fought in the East African Campaign (World War II) and in the Far East.

In Nigeria, from a force of 18,000 in infantry battalions and supporting units, strength rose to around 126,000 in three divisions by the end of the Nigerian Civil War in 1967.[3] In terms of doctrine, the task of the Federal Nigerian army did not fundamentally change: its task remained to close with and defeat an organised enemy.

The rapid expansion saw a severe decline in troop quality. The Nigerian expansion process led to an extreme shortage of commissioned officers, with newly created lieutenant-colonels commanding brigades, and platoons and companies often commanded by sergeants and warrant officers. This resulted in tentative command-and-control and in rudimentary staff work.[4] One result of the weak direction was that the Federals' three divisions fought independently, and competed for men and materiel. Writing in a 1984 study, Major Michael Stafford of the US Marine Corps noted that "Inexperienced, poorly trained and ineptly led soldiers manifested their lack of professionalism and indiscipline by massacres of innocent civilians and a failure to effectively execute infantry tactics." [5] Among the results was the 1967 Asaba massacre.

The influence of individual personalities are generally greater in the armies of developing states, as they tend to have weaker institutional frameworks. Key personalities involved in Nigeria included then-Colonel Olusegun Obasanjo. Obasanjo is particularly important due to his efforts to reorganise his command, 3 Division, during the civil war to improve its logistics and administration. The reorganisation he instituted made the Division capable of carrying out the offensive that ended the civil war.

The Nigerian Army fought the civil war significantly under-resourced; Obasanjo's memoirs chronicle the lack of any stocks of extra equipment for mobilisation, and the "haphazard and unreliable system of procurement and provisioning" which lasted for the entire period of the war.[6] Arms embargoes imposed by several Western countries made the situation more difficult.

Involvement in politics

The U.S. intelligence community concluded in November 1970 that "..The Nigerian Civil War ended with relatively little rancor. The Igbos are accepted as fellow citizens in many parts of Nigeria, but not in some areas of former Biafra where they were once dominant. Igboland is an overpopulated, economically depressed area where massive unemployment is likely to continue for many years.[7]

The U.S. analysts said that "..Nigeria is still very much a tribal society..." where local and tribal alliances count more than "national attachment. General Yakubu Gowon, head of the Federal Military Government (FRG) is the accepted national leader and his popularity has grown since the end of the war. The FMG is neither very efficient nor dynamic, but the recent announcement that it intends to retain power for six more years has generated little opposition so far. The Nigerian Army, vastly expanded during the war, is both the main support to the FMG and the chief threat to it. The troops are poorly trained and disciplined and some of the officers are turning to conspiracies and plotting. We think Gowon will have great difficulty in staying in office through the period which he said is necessary before the turnover of power to civilians. His sudden removal would dim the prospects for Nigerian stability."


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The factual accuracy of this article may be compromised due to out-of-date information

Nigerian troops with a US C-130 Hercules

Nigerian Army is located in Nigeria
HQ 1 Division
HQ 2 Division
HQ 3 Armoured Division
HQ 81 Division
HQ 82 Division
Divisions of Nigeria

Divisions in the Nigerian Army originated during the Nigerian Civil War, when in August–September 1967, 1 Area Command at Kaduna was redesignated 1 Infantry Division, 2 Division was formed under Colonel Murtala Mohammed, and the then Lagos Garrison Organisation was renamed 3 Infantry Division, later to be renamed 3 Marine Commando under Colonel Benjamin Adekunle. .[8]

"At the end of the Civil War, the three divisions of the army were reorganised into four divisions, with each controlling territories running from North to South in order to deemphasise the former regional structure. Each division thus had access to the sea thereby making triservice cooperation and logistic support easier. This deployment formula was later abandoned in favour of the present assignment of sectors to the divisions. Thus 1 Division with HQ at Kaduna is allocated the North West sector; 2 Division with HQ at lbadan South West sector, 3 Division with HQ at Jos North East sector and 82 Division with HQ at Enugu South East sector."[citation needed]

Its formations include the 1st Division, headquartered in Kaduna in the north-west, and 2nd Division (HQ Ibadan in the South-West, which includes 32 Artillery Brigade at Abeokuta).[9] 2nd Division also possibly includes 4 Brigade at Benin City, with 19 Battalion at Okitipupa and 195 Battalion at Agenebode. 52 Signal Regiment may be the divisional signals unit. 3rd Armoured Division's headquarters is at Rukuba Cantonment, Jos, in the North-East, and includes 21 Armoured Brigade Maiduguri, 23 Brigade Yola, and 33 Artillery Brigades.[10] 81st Division (Amphibious) HQ in Lagos, which includes the 9th Brigade, based at the Ikeja compound in Lagos, 82nd Division (Airborne and Amphibious) HQ in Enugu in the South-East, which includes the 2 Brigade at Port Harcourt, 13 Brigade at Calabar and the 34 Artillery Brigade at Obinze/Owerri. The Composite Division at Enugu was formed in 1964 as 4th Infantry Division, in 1975 became Lagos Garrison Organization; in 1981 became 4th Composite Division; became a Composite Division in May 2002.[11] 3rd Armoured Division was responsible in 1983 for the security of areas bordering Chad.[12]

Lagos and Abuja have garrison commands, with the Lagos garrison as large as a division. 81 Division was the youngest Division in the Nigerian Army. The Division was formed on 26 May 2002 when the Lagos Garrison Command (as it then was) was upgraded to a full-fledged Division. The Division therefore inherited the security roles hitherto performed by the defunct Lagos Garrison Command.[13] However a later undated article in a Nigerian online newspaper says the 81 Division was later again renamed the Lagos Garrison Command. In the 1980s, the Army's brigades included the 7th Infantry Brigade in Sokoto. There are also Divisional Artillery Brigades, among which are the 32 and 34 Artillery Brigades,[14] ordnance corps units as well as Combat Engineer Regiments, and many other service support units spread across the country.

Training and Doctrine Command formed in 1981, and is located at Minna. It supervises the army's schools, including the Depot. The Army sponsors the Nigerian Military School at Zaria. 7th infantry Division with head quarters in Maduguri, in the north eastern Nigeria. This division was recently instituted for the purpose of combating the Islamist terrorists that are now engaged in terrorism in the noerthern parts of Nigeria.

Nigerian military forces abroad

Nigerian soldiers in Somalia, 1993

In December 1983, the new Major General Muhammadu Buhari regime announced that Nigeria could no longer afford an activist anti-colonial role in Africa. Anglophone members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) established ECOMOG, dominated by the Nigerian Army, in 1990 to intervene in the civil war in Liberia. The Army has demonstrated its capability to mobilize, deploy, and sustain brigade-sized forces in support of peacekeeping operations in Liberia. Smaller army forces have been previously sent on UN and ECOWAS deployments in the former Yugoslavia, Angola, Rwanda, Somalia, and Sierra Leone.[citation needed]

That policy statement did not deter Nigeria under Generals Ibrahim Babangida in 1990 and Sani Abacha in 1997 from sending peacekeeping troops as part of ECOMOG under the auspices of ECOWAS into Liberia and later Sierra Leone when civil wars broke out in those countries. President Olusegun Obasanjo in August 2003 committed Nigerian troops once again into Liberia, at the urging of the United States, to provide an interim presence until the UN's force UNMIL arrived. Charles Taylor was subsequently eased out of power and exiled to Nigeria.

In October 2004, Nigerian troops again deployed into Darfur, Sudan to spearhead an African Union force to protect civilians in Darfur.

In January 2013, Nigeria began to deploy troops to Mali as part of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali.

Nigeria claimed to have contributed more than 20,000 troops and police officers to various UN missions since 1960. The Nigeria Police Force and troops have served in places like UNIPOM (UN India-Pakistan Observer mission) 1965, UNIFIL in Lebanon 1978, the UN observer mission, UNIIMOG supervising the Iran-Iraq ceasefire in 1988, former Yugoslavia 1998, East Timor 1999, and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) 2004.

Nigerian officers have served as chiefs of defence in other countries, with Brigadier General Maxwell Khobe serving as Sierra Leone chief of staff in 1998-1999,[15] and Nigerian officers acting as Command Officer-in-Charge of the Armed Forces of Liberia from at least 2007.

Chiefs of the Nigerian Army

Following is a chronological list of officers holding the position of General Officer Commanding (GOC) or Chief of Army Staff (COAS).[16]

Officer Title Period Served Remarks
Maj Gen Kenneth G. Exham 1956–1959 Duke of Wellington's Regiment
Maj Gen Foster GOC
Maj Gen John Alexander Mackenzie GOC 1963
Maj Gen Sir Christopher Welby-Everard GOC 1963–1965 Last British GOC
Maj Gen Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi GOC 1965–1966 Later military ruler
Lt Col Yakubu Gowon FSS COAS January 1966 - July 1966 Later military ruler
Lt Col Joseph Akahan OFR FSS COAS May 1967 - May 1968
Maj Gen Hassan Katsina rcds psc COAS May 1968 - January 1971
Maj Gen David Ejoor COAS January 1971 - July 1975
Lt Gen Theophilus Danjuma COAS July 1975 - October 1979
Lt Gen Ipoola Alani Akinrinade CFR FSS COAS October 1979 - April 1980 nil
Lt Gen Gibson Jalo CFR FSS JSS COAS April 1980 - October 1981
Lt Gen Mohammed Inuwa Wushishi CFR FSS COAS October 1981 - October 1983
Maj Gen Ibrahim Babangida COAS January 1984 - August 1985 Later military ruler
Lt Gen Sani Abacha GCON, DSS mni COAS August 1985 - August 1990 Later military ruler
Lt Gen Salihu Ibrahim FSS FHWC COAS August 1990 - September 1993
Lt Gen Aliyu Gusau Mohammed DSS rcds COAS September 1993 - November 1993
Maj Gen Chris Alli CRG DSS ndc psc(+) COAS November 1993 - August 1994??
Maj Gen Alwali Kazir DSS Usawc psc(+) COAS August 1994 - March 1996
Lt Gen Ishaya Bamaiyi DSS Usawc psc(+) COAS March 1996-May 1999
Lt Gen Victor Malu DSS mni fwc psc COAS May 1999 - April 2001
Lt Gen Alexander Ogomudia COAS April 2001 - June 2003 Later Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).
Lt Gen Martin Luther Agwai COAS June 2003 June 2006 Later Commander of the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur.
Lt Gen Owoye Andrew Azazi COAS 1 June 2006 - May 2007 Later Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).
Lt Gen Luka Yusuf CFR GSS GPP DSO psc(+) fwc Msc COAS June 2007 - August 2008
Lt Gen Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau CFR GSS psc ndc fwc(+) PhD COAS August 2008 - September 2010
Lt Gen Onyabor Azubuike Ihejirika CFR GSS psc(+) fwc fniqs COAS September 2010 - January 2014
Maj Gen Kenneth Tobiah Minimah GSS psc(+) fwc COAS January 2014 – Present


Small arms

Name Caliber Country of origin Type Notes
vz. 52 rifle 7.62×39 mm  Czech Republic Rifle N/A
Beretta BM59 7.62×51 mm NATO  Italy Rifle Produced under licence by Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria[17]
FN FAL 7.62×51 mm NATO  Belgium Assault rifle Produced under licence by Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria as NR-1[18][19][20]
Heckler & Koch G3 7.62×51 mm NATO  Germany Assault rifle Produced under licence by Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria[21]
AK-47 7.62×39 mm  Soviet Union Assault rifle Produced by Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria as OBJ-006[22][23]
AKM[24] 7.62×39 mm  Soviet Union Assault rifle N/A
M16 rifle[25] 5.56×45 mm NATO  United States Assault rifle N/A
FN FNC[26] 5.56×45 mm NATO  Belgium Assault rifle N/A
Beretta AR70/90[26] 5.56×45 mm NATO  Italy Assault rifle N/A
SIG SG 540[26] 5.56×45 mm NATO   Switzerland Assault rifle N/A
Steyr AUG 5.56×45 mm NATO  Austria Assault rifle N/A
Daewoo Precision Industries K2[27] 5.56×45 mm NATO  South Korea Assault rifle N/A
Heckler & Koch MP5[26] 9×19mm Parabellum  Germany Submachine gun N/A
Uzi[26] 9×19mm Parabellum  Israel Submachine gun N/A
Beretta M12[28] 9×19mm Parabellum  Italy Submachine gun Produced under licence by Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria[29]
Sterling submachine gun[26] 9×19mm Parabellum  United Kingdom Submachine gun N/A
Sa vz. 23 9×19mm Parabellum  Czech Republic Submachine gun N/A
Walther P5[30] 9×19mm Parabellum  Germany Semi-automatic pistol N/A
Beretta 92[30] 9×19mm Parabellum  Italy Semi-automatic pistol N/A
Beretta M 1951[26] 9×19mm Parabellum  Italy Semi-automatic pistol N/A
Browning Hi-Power[26] 9×19mm Parabellum  Belgium Semi-automatic pistol Produced under licence by Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria[31]
Steyr SSG 69 7.62×51 mm NATO  Austria Sniper rifle N/A
FN MAG 7.62×51 mm NATO  Belgium General-purpose machine gun Produced under licence by Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria as GPMG[29]
Heckler & Koch HK21 7.62×51 mm NATO  Germany General-purpose machine gun N/A
RPK 7.62×39 mm  Soviet Union General-purpose machine gun N/A
Degtyaryov machine gun 7.62×54mmR  Soviet Union General-purpose machine gun N/A
M2 Browning[26] 12.7x99mm NATO  United States Heavy machine gun N/A
DShK 12.7x108mm  Soviet Union Heavy machine gun N/A

Anti-Tank Weapons

Name Caliber Country of origin Type Notes
RPG-7[26] 85 mm  Soviet Union Rocket propelled grenade Produced under licence by Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria[32]
Carl Gustav recoilless rifle[26] 84 mm  Sweden Recoilless rifle 30 in total
M40 recoilless rifle 106 mm  United States Recoilless rifle N/A
Swingfire[33] 170 mm  United Kingdom Anti-tank missile N/A


Name Caliber Country of origin Type Quantity Notes
L16 81mm Mortar 81mm  United Kingdom Medium mortar 200 Produced under licence by Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria[34]
Mortier 120mm Rayé Tracté Modèle F1 120mm  France Heavy mortar 30 N/A
120-PM-43 mortar 120mm  Soviet Union Heavy mortar 100 N/A


Name Caliber Country of origin Type Quantity
Bofors FH-77 155mm  Sweden Howitzer 24
130 mm towed field gun M1954 (M-46) 130mm  Soviet Union Howitzer 13
D-30 122mm  Soviet Union Howitzer 30
D-74 122mm  Soviet Union Howitzer 100
OTO Melara Mod 56 105mm  Italy Howitzer 200
M-56 105mm  Yugoslavia Howitzer 200

Self propelled Artillery

Name Caliber Country of origin Type Quantity
Palmaria 155mm  Italy Self propelled howitzer 50
BM-21 Grad 122mm  Soviet Union Multiple rocket launcher 35

Anti-Aircraft Weapons

Name Caliber Country of origin Type Quantity
ZU-23-2 23mm  Soviet Union Anti-aircraft gun 20
Bofors 40mm anti-aircraft gun 40mm  Sweden Anti-aircraft gun N/A
SA-7 Grail 72mm  Soviet Union MANPADS 100 launchers
Blowpipe missile 76mm  United Kingdom MANPADS 48 launchers[35]
ZSU-23-4Shilka 23mm  Soviet Union SPAAG 30 units
Roland none  France SAM 16 Launchers and 300 Missiles

Armoured vehicles

Name Caliber Country of origin Type Quantity
T-54/T-55 100mm  Soviet Union Main battle tank 150
Vickers MK-III 105mm  United Kingdom Main battle tank 92
AMX-30 105mm  France Main battle tank 16
Scorpion tank 76mm  United Kingdom Light tank 200
MT-LB none  Soviet Union Armored personnel carrier 67
Steyr 4K7FA-G127 none  Austria Armored personnel carrier 170
LAV Piranaha 12.7mm   Switzerland Armored personnel carrier 70
BTR-3U 30mm  Ukraine Armored personnel carrier 47
BTR-80 14.5mm  Soviet Union Armored personnel carrier 47
BTR-60 14.5mm  Soviet Union Armored personnel carrier 6
EE-11 Urutu none  Brazil Armored personnel carrier N/A
Alvis Saracen none  United Kingdom Armored personnel carrier 10
Gila none  South Africa Armored personnel carrier 12
Saxon none  United Kingdom Armored personnel carrier 75
M-3 none  France Armored personnel carrier 18
Alvis Scimitar 30mm  United Kingdom Armored reconnaissance vehicle 5
ERC-90 Sagaie 90mm  France Armored reconnaissance vehicle 46
EE-9 Cascavel 90mm  Brazil Armored reconnaissance vehicle 75
Saladin 76mm  United Kingdom Armored reconnaissance vehicle 16
AML-90 90mm  France Armored reconnaissance vehicle 120
AML-60 60mm  France Armored reconnaissance vehicle 60
Fox Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle 30mm  United Kingdom Armored reconnaissance vehicle 50
FV104 Samaritan none  United Kingdom Armored ambulance N/A
Véhicule Blindé Léger none  France Armored car 72
Otokar Cobra none  Turkey Armored car 193
Vickers ARV none  United Kingdom Recovery Tank 15
Steyr 4KH7FA-SB-20 Greif none  Austria Engineering Tank 15
Vickers AVLB none  United Kingdom Briddging Tank 18

Other Vehicles

Name Country of origin Type
Land Rover  United Kingdom Utility vehicle
Toyota Hilux  Japan Utility vehicle
Ford Ranger  United States Utility vehicle
Pinzgauer  Austria 2.5 ton Truck
Steyr M-14  Austria 2.5 ton Truck
Steyr 19-S-25 Recovery truck  Austria 6 ton Truck
Steyr 19-S-29 Recovery truck  Austria 14 ton Truck


  2. IISS Military Balance 2007, p.287
  3. Scott report, Sunday Telegraph, 11 January 1970, via N.J. Miners, The Nigerian Army 1956-65, Methuen and Co. Ltd, London, 1971, p.229
  4. Neville Brown, "The Nigerian Civil War," Military Review, vol. 48, October 1968, p. 28, cited in Major Michael Stafford, Quick Kill in Slow Motion, Marine Corps CSC, 1984, at
  5. Stafford study, 1984
  6. Olunsegun Obasanjo, My Command: An Account of the Nigerian Civil War, Heinemann, Ibadan/London/Nairobi, 1980, p.61
  7. Central Intelligence Agency (2 November 1970). "National Intelligence Estimate 64.2-70: Prospects for Postwar Nigeria". United States Department of State. Archived from the original on 2005-10-28. [dead link]
  8. General Olunsegun Obasanjo, 'My Command: An Account of the Nigerian Civil War 1967-70,' Heinemann, Ibadan/London/Nairobi, p.18 (Via Joint Services Command and Staff College Library)
  9. Army Games Begin in Abeokuta
  10. Nigerian Army 3 Division, verified October 2008
  11., Concise World Armies 2006
  12. Jimi Peters, The Nigerian military and the state, I.B. Tauris, 1997, p.174, via Google Books
  13. Nigerian Army Website, accessed August 2008
  14. Saxone Akhaine, Army chief decries military's involvement in politics, Guardian, Kaduna, 13 October 2008
  15. Dr Nowa Omoigui
  16. "Chronicle of Command". The Nigerian Army. Retrieved 2010-06-01. 
  17. German small arms: The Nigerian connection. Retrieved on October 5, 2008.
  18. "Licensed and unlicensed production of FN Herstal products, to August 2006". Small Arms Survey. Retrieved 2010-04-10. 
  19. "Nigeria - Arms Procurement and Defense Industries". June 1991. Retrieved 2010-04-10. 
  20. "DOSSIER - The Question of Arms in Africa". Agenzia Fides. Retrieved 2010-04-10. 
  21. Nigeria: Arms Procurement and Defense Industries. Retrieved on October 5, 2008.
  22. "Nigeria to mass-produce Nigerian version of AK-47 rifles." Retrieved on 5 October 2008.
  23. "DICON – Defence Industry Corp. of Nigeria" Retrieved on 23 June 2012.
  24. Rottman, Gordon (2011). The AK-47 Kalashnikov series assault rifles. Great Britain: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84908-461-1.
  25. Jane's Special Forces Recognition Guide, Ewen Southby-Tailyour (2005) p. 446
  26. 26.00 26.01 26.02 26.03 26.04 26.05 26.06 26.07 26.08 26.09 26.10 Jones, Richard D. Jane's Infantry Weapons 2009/2010. Jane's Information Group; 35 edition (January 27, 2009). ISBN 978-0-7106-2869-5.
  27. "한국의 무기 이야기". 
  28. Gander, Jerry (2002). Jane's Infantry Weapons 2002-2003. Jane's Information Group. pp. 214, 899–906. ISBN 0-7106-2434-4. 
  29. 29.0 29.1 Defense Industries Corporation of Nigeria Retrieved on May 1, 2013.
  30. 30.0 30.1 Diez, Octavio (2000). Armament and Technology: Handguns. Lema Publications, S.L. ISBN 84-8463-013-7.
  31. Defense Industries Corporation of Nigeria Retrieved on May 1, 2013.
  32. Defense Industries Corporation of Nigeria Retrieved on May 1, 2013.
  33. "Nigeria Armee nigeriane forces terrestres equipements vehicules blindes militaires information descr - Army Recognition". 2012-07-14. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  34. Defense Industries Corporation of Nigeria Retrieved on May 1, 2013.

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