Nigerian Army Ranks and Symbols

Last updated on April 23rd, 2024 at 12:28 am

The Nigerian army is among the top three military organization in the country.

The Nigerian military has over the years, being ranked among the best armed forces in Africa, established to protect not only the citizenry but the territorial borders of Nigeria.

If you want to start a career in the Nigerian military and would like like know more about the Nigerian Army ranks and Insignia (symbol), then this article covers it all.

Nigerian Army Ranks and Symbols

The Nigerian Army is the land branch of the Nigerian Armed Forces, responsible for protecting the country against external threats, maintaining internal security, and defending its territorial integrity.

The Nigerian Army operates under a strict chain of command, with various ranks and symbols representing the authority and responsibilities of each officer.

In this article, we will discuss the Nigerian Army ranks and symbols in detail, including their history, meaning, and significance.


Ranks and symbols play a crucial role in the military.

They serve as a means of identifying the level of authority and responsibility of military personnel, as well as representing the values and principles of the organization.

In the military, each rank denotes a specific level of authority and responsibility.

Higher ranks are responsible for making strategic decisions, while lower ranks are responsible for executing those decisions.

Ranks also determine the chain of command and the reporting structure within the military.

Symbols, on the other hand, represent the values and principles of the military organization.

They serve as a means of identifying the organization and its members.

Symbols may include flags, logos, or emblems, and they often have a deep cultural or historical significance.

In addition to their functional importance, ranks and symbols also serve as a source of motivation and inspiration for military personnel.

They provide a sense of identity and belonging, and signify the honor and prestige associated with serving in the military.

Furthermore, ranks and symbols help to establish a sense of order and discipline within the military.

They create a clear hierarchy of authority and responsibility, and ensure that everyone understands their roles and obligations.

This helps to maintain order and cohesion within the military, and ensures that everyone is working towards the same goals.


The Nigerian military, which is saddled with the sole responsibility of protecting the citizens and sovereign territorial borders against external threats, operates on three codes namely: order, hierarchy and discipline.

This means that the Nigerian armed forces is organized and abides by certain decrees and operates within a structural hierarchy, e.g Nigerian army ranks.

The military are further divided into three branches:

  • Nigerian Army: This service branch is armed to maintain peace on land and is responsible for securing the lives of the people against internal and external threats.
  • Nigerian Navy: This is branch of the armed forces that operate and secure the nation’s waters against invaders. They also help in rescuing citizens who experience attack by sea.
  • Nigerian Air force: They offer air support and secure the country against threats or invaders by air. They also aid in transporting cargo/weapons and other missions on air.

This post will discuss more on the ranks of the Nigerian army and their symbols.


Every service branch of the Nigerian armed forces has its symbols by which it is known.

The Nigerian Army logo is one symbol that differentiates it from the air force or the navy.

We shall explain the meaning of the eagle, the star sign and the meaning of the Arabic text writing just below the logo.

  • The eagle on the army logo signifies grace and power of the Nigerian army. Just like the way the eagle hovers above and attacks with precision, that’s how the army strikes Nigeria’s enemies when fighting a war.
  • The symbol of the star represents the unity of Nigeria as one indivisible nation. This could be traced back to 1914, during the amalgamation. The yellow and black colour on the star represents the Southern and Northern Protectorates that formed one Nigeria.
  • The Arabic writing in the Nigerian Army logo when transcribed in English means ‘Victory comes from God alone’.
  • The colour red on the flag stands for threat and enemy elements while the black represents the Nigerian cavalry and troops.


Nigerian Army ranks is the defined hierarchical structure that defines the position of its officers.

Normally, you see different insignias on the uniform of army officers.

This insignias differentiates them according to ranks where they belong.

Note that the ranks in the Nigerian army for commissioned officers is different from that of those who are non-commissioned.

Also, salaries are paid according to ranks.


Below is a list of ranks in the Nigerian army for non-commissioned officers from the lowest to the highest:


This is the lowest rank in the Nigerian army hierarchy.

These officer recruits have no insignia.


Lance Corporals are next after recruits and usually have one shoulder mark insignia.


A corporal is ranked with two shoulder marks as his insignia.


The Sergeant is the fourth rank for junior officers.

Their insignia is usually three shoulder marks.


A Staff Sergeant is higher than the Sergeant and has three shoulder marks and a golden eagle on top as his insignia.


Also called Sergeant First class, warrant officers are the assistants of Master Sergeants with an insignia of a golden eagle surrounded by a golden crown of olive leaves.


Also known as Master Sergeant, these military officers take care of army equipment. Their insignia is the Nigerian Coat Of Arms with silver horses.


Below is a list of ranks in the Nigerian army for commissioned officers from the lowest to the highest:


Second Lieutenants is the first rank for commissioned officers in the army for graduates and they have have one silver six-pointed star on each of their shoulders as their insignia.


Next rank are the First Lieutenant.

The insignia to differentiate these officers are two vertically aligned silver stars which is seen on their shoulders.

Lieutenants are responsible for leading a squad, which is comprised of several soldiers.


This is a high rank in the military especially for tactical troop organisation.

Whenever you see three vertically aligned silver stars on the shoulders of any officer in the army, know that he is a Captain.

They are responsible for leading a platoon, which is comprised of several squads.


The insignia for Majors in the Nigerian army is a silver eagle.

This rank is also the lowest field officer rank of the commissioned officers.

A Major is responsible for the command of a company, which is comprised of several platoons.


Lieutenant Colonels are ranked above majors with their insignia being a vertically aligned silver star with a silver eagle.


This rank’s insignia has two silver stars and a silver eagle.

Colonel officers are normally in charge of regiments.

Colonels are responsible for the command of a regiment or group of battalions.

They are also responsible for overseeing the training and readiness of their troops, as well as ensuring the proper execution of military operations.


This is another high ranking officer in the Nigerian army in charge of commanding brigades.

A Brigadier general insignia has three silver stars that form a triangle alongside a silver eagle on the top.

Brigadier Generals are responsible for the command of brigades, which are comprised of several battalions.

They are also responsible for overseeing the training and readiness of their troops, as well as coordinating with other military units and government agencies.


To know a Major General in the military, they usually have a golden emblem of the crossed sword and baton below a golden eagle on each shoulder of their uniforms.

A Major General is responsible for the command of a division or corps, as well as overseeing the operations of the Nigerian Army in a specific geographical area.

Major Generals also play a key role in the planning and execution of military operations.

9. Lieutenant General

The Lieutenant Generals are top officers who often are made Chief of Army Staff in the country.

The gold vertically aligned emblem of the crossed sword and baton, a star and an eagle can be found on their uniforms.

A Lieutenant General is responsible for overseeing the operations of the Nigerian Army, including training, logistics, and intelligence.

In addition, a Lieutenant General may be assigned to command a particular division or corps.


In practice, the rank of the General is considered the highest rank in the Nigerian army.

The reason is that it is practically impossible for anyone to attain the role of Army Field Marshal.

The rank of General is reserved for the Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Defence Staff, who is responsible for the overall direction, administration, and coordination of the Nigerian Army.

The General is also responsible for the formulation and implementation of military policies and strategies.

This information on the Nigerian Army ranks for commissioned officers would be helpful for those who want to start a career in the military.


To become an officer in the Nigerian Army, one must have a bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution, and complete the Officer Cadet training program at the Nigerian Defense Academy or Direct Short Service Commission Course.

There are also opportunities for graduates of the Nigerian Military School or Nigerian Navy Secondary School to join the Officer Cadet program.

The highest rank in the Nigerian Army is General, with the Chief of Army Staff serving as the highest-ranking officer in the Nigerian Army.

There are also other senior positions such as the Chief of Defense Staff and the Chief of Naval Staff, which are occupied by officers from different branches of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

The time it takes to become a senior non-commissioned officer in the Nigerian Army depends on various factors such as qualifications, experience, and performance.

Generally, it takes about 15 to 20 years of service to attain the rank of Sergeant Major, which is the highest rank for non-commissioned officers.

The Nigerian Army Coat of Arms is a symbol of the country’s sovereignty and military might.

It consists of various components such as the eagle, the green and white shield, the Arabic numerals, and the two supporting horses.

Each component represents a different aspect of the Nigerian Army’s values and principles, such as loyalty, bravery, and unity.

Soldiers wear berets in the Nigerian Army as a symbol of their membership in a particular unit or division.

The color of the beret indicates the soldier’s affiliation, with each unit having its own distinctive color.

The beret also serves as a symbol of pride and honor for soldiers, as it signifies their dedication and commitment to the Nigerian Army.

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Oluchi Chukwu

Oluchi is a seasoned Information blogger, content developer and the editor of Nigerian Queries. She is a tech enthusiast who loves reading, writing and research

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