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Nigerian Army Ranks: All you Need to Know

The military is a must have for every country to protect its sovereignty. The Nigerian military is divided into the Navy, Air force, and the army (which would be the major focus of this article) but first off, let’s take brief look at the Nigerian military in general.

The military is the armed forces of a nation, authorized to apply force and use its weapons for the interest of the country and its citizens. It has the responsibility of defending the country and its citizens in the case of an outside threat or war from another country. The military also has many other functions including:

  • Taking part in case of an emergency.
  • Fighting insurgency in the country.
  • Guiding critical areas in a state of emergency.
  • Promoting political agenda

The military can also take up other responsibilities on its own, acting as part of the subculture of a larger society. This means that the military can decide on its own to set up schools, banks, food production, logistics, health and medical services, and different utilities.

Military forces in Nigeria

As mentioned earlier, the Nigerian military is divided into three categories with each of them having their different responsibilities

The Air Force

Nigerian Air Force is one of the largest on the continent. It has over 10,000 active personnel with a lot of helicopters, fighter jets, transport aircrafts and trainers. Their function and obligations include: Rescue operations, Cargo transportation, Medical assistance, Airborne mapping, Bombing runs, Air-support, and Target monitoring.

The Nigerian Navy

The category of the Nigerian military which has its focus on sea is the Nigerian Navy. Its responsibilities include: Regional security, Rescue operations, Marine clean-ups, Training missions etc.

The Nigerian Army

The Nigerian Army is widely regarded as Africa’s best ground fighters. It is currently ranked as the third best Army in Africa and one of the strongest in the world. The Nigerian army, like every other Army in the world, is made up of ranks. There are seventeen (17) of these ranks within the Nigerian army, with only sixteen (16) been attained since independence. These ranks are to ensure discipline and respect for hierarchy in the force, and of course, there are responsibilities and benefits attached to each and every one of them.

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The Nigerian army force is categorized into two; Commissioned officers and Non-commissioned officers.

The Commissioned Officers are those that have earned a commission from the Nigerian Army (a formal document that appoints one to be a commissioned officer). There are 11 ranks of these commissioned officers in the Nigerian army, and from top to bottom, we have:


Field Marshal

The Field Marshal is also known as the General of the Army. It is the highest rank in the Nigerian Army. Since the Nigerian Army was formed, no one has ever attained this rank. A golden eagle, a cross of sword, and a baton surrounded by two branches makes up the insignia of a field Marshal in the Nigerian Army.


This is so far, the highest attained rank in the Nigerian Army. A silver eagle, two golden six-pointed stars, and a cross of sword and baton gives the identification of a General in the Nigerian Army.

Lieutenant General

The rank of Lieutenant General is the third most powerful rank in the Nigerian Army. A lieutenant General can be identified with a golden eagle, a golden six-pointed star, and a cross of sword and baton.

Major General

The Major General is the second from bottom rank among the distinguished and powerful phase of officers in the Nigerian Army. A major General in the Nigerian Army can be identified with a golden eagle and a cross of sword and baton.


The lowest ranking General in the Nigerian Army is the Brigadier General. Upon appointment, a Brigadier General oversees a brigade of about 4000 troops. The symbol of q Brigadier general is like that of a colonel in that it is made up of one silver eagle and six-pointed stars arranged in a triangular form.

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One of the top ranks in the Nigerian Army is the rank of Colonel. A Colonel’s duty is to be responsible for the regiment (a permanent army unit). The symbol for the rank of Colonel is one silver eagle above two six-pointed stars that is vertically aligned.

Lieutenant Colonel

To be a lieutenant Colonel in the Nigerian army is no easy feat. It is one of the most important ranks in the army. To identify this rank in an army uniform, just look out for one silver eagle above a vertically aligned six-pointed star below.


The rank of Major comes after the Colonel in Nigerian army hierarchy. It is the equivalent of lieutenant commander in the Nigerian Navy. A Major can be identified with a silver eagle marked on the uniform badge.


Quite easily the most recognisable badge in the Nigerian army. The Captain is higher than both the First and Second Lieutenant. The symbol on their uniform is three six-pointed stars vertically aligned.

First Lieutenant

The First Lieutenant is a substitute for the Captain. To identify the First Lieutenant in the Nigerian army, look out for the badge on their uniform crested with two six-pointed stars that are vertically aligned.

Second Lieutenant

Among the commissioned officers of the Nigerian army, the Second Lieutenant is the lowest ranked among them. The Second Lieutenant is the second substitute for the Captain in the Nigerian army. The Second Lieutenant can be recognized on the field with a single six-pointe

Non-Commissioned Officers

The non-commissioned officers are those who have not earned a commission by the army. There are eight of these non-commissioned officers, from top to bottom we have:

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Master Warrant Officer

The highest non-commissioned rank in the Nigerian Military is the Master Warrant Officer or Master Sergeant. They are charged in the military to handle the military equipment’s. You can recognize the Master Warrant Officers by the coat of arm symbol on their badge.

Warrant Officer

The Warrant Officers are above the Staff Sergeant. Warrant Officer is generally a good rank for a young officer in the Nigerian army. A Warrant Officer can be recognized in the Nigerian army by a golden eagle surrounded by a golden crown made of Olive leaves.

Staff Sergeant

The rank of Staff Sergeant comes after the Sergeant rank in the Nigerian army. The Staff Sergeant is a senior officer among non-commissioned officers in the army. They can be recognized with a golden eagle above the triple V crested on their uniform badge.


A Sergeant in the Nigerian army is a junior non-commissioned officer. It is senior to both the Corporal and Lance Corporal in the hierarchy of the Nigerian army. Look out for the triple V on the Nigerian army uniform badge to identify a Sergeant.


The Corporal rank in the Nigerian army is the one that comes before a promotion to Sergeant. It is the second rank from the bottom in the hierarchy of the Nigerian army. A Corporal can be identified with the double V badge on their uniform.

Lance Corporal

A Lance Corporal is the lowest ranked officer in the Nigerian army. The Lance Corporal is higher in rank to the newly recruited soldiers. In the Nigerian army, they can be identified by a V mark badge on the uniform.

That is all for the Nigerian army and the rank of its officers.

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