List of Army Ranks in Nigeria

If you are interested in getting into the Nigerian Army, you have to be familiar with the ranks. The Nigerian Army is majorly dedicated to protecting Nigeria as a whole. In this post “List of Army Ranks in Nigeria”, we shall exhaustively talk about all there is to know. We also talked about History of the Nigerian Army and Ranks of Commissioned Officers. As well as Ranks of Non-commissioned Officers and How to Join the Nigerian Army.

Generally, there are three components of the Nigerian Armed forces. They are the Nigerian Army, the Navy and the Nigerian Air force. These three components are majorly responsible for the protection as well as safeguarding of Nigeria as a whole. The Nigerian Army is majorly in charge of protecting the nation from every opposition that occurs on land. They are the ones that go to war for the nation and also display patriotism in the process. The Nigerian Navy however protect Nigeria’s waters while the Air force maintains control over Nigeria airspace. For the course of this study, we shall only focus on The Nigerian Army.

History of the Nigerian Army

The history of the Nigerian Army dates back to colonial times when the British established military units in the region that is now modern-day Nigeria. Over the years, the Nigerian Army has evolved through various stages, playing significant roles in both domestic and international affairs. The British established military forces in Nigeria during the 19th century to protect their colonial interests and maintain control over the diverse ethnic groups in the region. These forces were mainly composed of indigenous troops, known as the “Hausa Constabulary” and the “West African Frontier Force.”

However, during World War I and World War II, Nigerian soldiers served in the British military. Their contributions were particularly significant during World War II, thus Nigerian troops fought alongside British forces in various theaters. Furthermore, in 1956, the Nigerian Regiment was renamed the Royal Nigerian Army. After Nigeria gained independence from British colonial rule, the military units were also restructured to form the nucleus of the new Nigerian Army.

One of the most significant events in the history of the Nigerian Army was the Nigerian Civil War. This was also known as the Biafra War, which lasted from 1967 to 1970. The conflict was a result of ethnic and political tensions. Thus leading to the secession of the southeastern region of Nigeria as the Republic of Biafra. The Nigerian Army also fought to reunify the country and eventually succeeded. However , it was at a high cost of human lives and infrastructure.

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Throughout its history, the Nigerian Army has experienced both triumphs and challenges, reflecting the complexities of the nation’s socio-political landscape. The army continues to play a vital role in ensuring national security and contributing to international peacekeeping efforts. We shall now discuss the list of Army Ranks in Nigeria.

List of Army Ranks in Nigeria

The Nigerian Army is made up of two kinds of officers. We have the Commissioned officers who are graduates of military academies as well as the Non-commissioned officers.  For the sake of this study, we shall first examine the rankings of Commissioned officers. As earlier said these are the most important ranking in the Nigerian Army.

Ranks of Commissioned Officers

There are 11 rankings for commissioned officers and they are as follows.

Second Lieutenant

This is the lowest commissioned officer rank in the Nigerian Army. A Lieutenant has one silver star on each shoulder. Also, the word “Lieutenant” translates to mean Substitute.

First Lieutenant

People that bear this rank are mostly regarded as the Captain’s deputy. They usually have 2 vertically aligned silver stars on their shoulder.


This is the highest rank among junior officers. A Captain has three vertically aligned silver stars on the shoulders.


Being a major is a senior rank in the Nigerian Army. A major has a silver eagle on each shoulder.

Lieutenant Colonel

Just like the name implies, a lieutenant colonel is the Colonel’s deputy. This rank is mid-level amongst the field officers. A Lieutenant colonel wears a vertically aligned silver star as well as a silver eagle in each shoulder.


One major thing to note about the colonel is that the is usually responsible for the regiments. Additionally, officers in this rank are at the top of the field officer hierarchy. However, they are at the bottom of the commissioned officer hierarchy. A colonel has two silver stars as well as a silver eagle vertically aligned on each shoulder.

Brigadier General

From the name, we can deduce that these officers are in charge of brigades. A Brigadier General as three stars on each shoulder.  However, unlike others, the stars are not vertically aligned but forms a triangle with a silver eagle on top.

Major General

The Major General usually carries an eagle with a baton and sword below it. This officer commands a division of 6000 to 25,000 troops in a field command. A major General is a mid-level commissioned rank.

Lieutenant General

This is the 3rd highest rank in the Nigerian Army. The Lieutenant General has a vertically aligned emblem of the crossed sword and baton as well as a star and an eagle all in gold on both shoulders. An officer of this rank can command as much as three army divisions in addition to thousands of troops.


A General is the second highest rank in the Nigerian Army. The officer in this rank has a vertically aligned cross sword and baton as well as two stars and an eagle all in gold on both shoulders.

Field Marshall

This is highest rank in the Nigerian Army and nobody has ever attained this rank yet because it is unattainable. It is a five-star rank given to a General when he achieves an almost impossible military feat. A field Marshall has an eagle above a crossed sword as well as a baton surrounded by two branches all in gold on both shoulders.

Ranks of Non-commissioned Officers

The following are ranks of Non-commissioned officers is ascending order. That is, from lowest to highest.


Obviously, this is the lowest rank in the Nigerian Army as it is mostly for recruits without insignia. However, a trainee might get one shoulder mark.

Private Soldier

This is the second lowest rank in the Nigerian Army. A private basically applies what he learnt as a trainee and continues to learn under his supervisors.

Lance Corporal

This is slightly higher than the private but still low regardless. A Lance corporal can also receive a one shoulder mark.


A Corporal has two shoulder marks and is given the task of overseeing a troop


A sergeant is a junior non-commissioned officer and usually gets three shoulder marks.

Staff Sergeant

This rank is for the senior non-commissioned officers in the Nigerian Army. A staff Sergeant has three shoulder marks as well as a golden eagle on top.

Warrant Officer

This is the Master sergeant assistant. Its insignia is the Golden eagle surrounded by matching golden crown made from olive leaves.

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Master Sergeant

This is the highest rank of non-commissioned officers. Officers in this rank are usually in charge of military equipment. The insignia of an officer of this rank is the Nigerian Coat of Arms. However, the horse here is silver and the rest is golden.

How to Join the Nigerian Army

Joining the Nigerian Army is not a very easy task however, it is not so difficult as well. Below are the requirements to meet to join the Nigerian Army.

  • You must be a Nigerian by Birth.
  • You must show up for the zonal screening exercise at the centers assigned to your state
  • For non-trades people, you must be between 18 and 22 years at the time of your application. Tradesmen and women must be between 18 and 26 years old.
  • Women must be at least 1.56 meters ta and men, 1.65 meters. In addition to this, you must be in good health physically and mentally.
  • You must be certain you have no criminal records
  • Show up for exams and submit all paperwork required of you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the motto of the Nigerian Army?

Victory is from God alone!

Who is the founder of the Nigerian Army?

The Nigerian Army dates back to 1863 when Lt. Glover of the Royal Navy selected 18 indigenes from the North and organized them into a local force.

How many types of soldiers do we have in Nigeria?

There are 3 components of armed forces in Nigeria. They are the Army, Navy and Air force.

Who is the Field Marshall?

The field Marshall is the highest rank of the Nigerian Army and nobody has ever attained it. Hence, it is quite difficult to attain.


We have exhaustively looked at the list of Army Ranks in Nigeria as well as where they stand. The Nigerian Army is a subset of the Nigerian Armed forces and they are vested with the obligation of protecting the nation. You can go to an academy if you wish to become a commissioned officer or just undergo training at their camp to be a non-commissioned officer. Follow our website and leave a comment below for more information.

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