Ranks in Nigerian Army for Commissioned and Non-commissioned Officers

Last updated on January 6th, 2022 at 01:34 pm


Nigerian Army is the largest among the three Armed Forces in Nigeria. Other members of the Armed Forces are Nigerian Airforce, and the Nigerian Navy.

Apart from being the largest, it is also the most engaged arm of the Nigerian Military. Whenever there is unrest which is beyond the control of the Nigeria Police Force, soldiers from the Nigerian Army are quickly drafted to restore peace.

They have performed internal security responsibilities in Benue State, Niger Delta States, fight against the Boko Haram, which is the most deadly terrorist group it is fighting since Nigerian gained independence in 1960. The fight continues at the time of compiling publishing this post.


In terms of peace keeping, Nigerian Army have performed reasonably well in restoring peace in other African countries like Congo, Liberia and other peacekeeping mission of AU, UN and ECOWAS.

Nigerian Army is very essential to the security of the country. It’s role can not be underrated.

In fact a quick look back at all the military coup that have been executed since 1966 till 1985, were carried out by members of the Nigerian Army. That’s to show how powerful the Nigerian Army is when it comes to power and politics in Nigeria,

Ranks in Nigerian Army

Nigerian Army ranks is divided into two categories:

  1. Ranks for Nigerian Army commissioned officers
  2. Ranks for Nigerian Army non-commissioned officers
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Let’s do a quick clarification of the two

Who is a commissioned officer in the Nigerian Army?

A commissioned officer in the Nigerian Army is an officer who started his carrier by gaining entrance into the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) for special training and courses or someone who having completed his higher education (University or Polytechnic) obtained, passed, scale through the training and courses of the Direct Short Service Course (DSSC).

Anyone who passes the above will be commissioned upon the completion of its training ans courses.

Simply put,  commissioned officers hold higher ranks than non-commissioned officer (NCOs). Commissioned officers have more legal responsibilities, they are paid more.

Who is a non-commissioned officer in the Nigerian Army?

“A non-commissioned officer is a military officer who has not earned a commission. Non-commissioned officers usually obtain their position of authority by promotion through the enlisted ranks.”

Usually abbreviated NCO,  they usually includes all grades of corporal and sergeant; in some countries, warrant officers also carry out the duties of NCOs.

Classes of non-commissioned officer:

  1.  Junior non-commissioned officers (JNCO)
  2. Senior (or staff) non-commissioned officers (SNCO)

How Nigerians see non-commissioned officers (Misconception)

In Nigeria we usually call them “recruits” Nigerians see them as those who do not have the required academic qualification to get their way into the Commissioned ranks.

However, that’s wrong, there are hundreds of non-commissioned officers who have the required academic qualification but due to circumstances (like unemployment, influence) settle for this lower cadre

Ranks of Non-commissioned officers in the Nigerian Army

  • Master Warrant Officer
  • Warrant Officer
  • Staff Sergeant
  • Sergeant; This rank is abbreviated as Sgt. Sergeant is a non-commissioned officer placed above the rank of a corporal.
  • Corporal
  • Lance Corporal
  • Private
  • Recruit
  • Lance Corporal
  • Private: A soldier of the lowest military rank
  • Recruit
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Ranks of Commissioned officers in Nigerian Army

  • Field Marshal
  • General
  • Lieutenant General
  • Major General
  • Brigadier General
  • Colonel
  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • Major
  • Captain
  • Lieutenant
  • Second Lieutenant
  • Officer cadet

Field Marshal:

This is the highest rank in the Nigerian Army, however no one has attained this position ever.

It is considered as a five-star rank (OF-10) in modern-day armed forces in many countries. Promotion to the rank of field marshal in many countries historically required extraordinary military achievement by a general (a wartime victory).


General of the Army is a military rank used to denote a senior military leader, usually a general in command of a Nigeria’s army.

Lieutenant General:

Lieutenant general, abbreviated as Lt-Gen, is a three-star military rank (NATO code OF-8) used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages, where the title of lieutenant general was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a captain general.

Major General:

Major general, abbreviated as Maj.-Gen. is below the rank of Lt-Gen and above the rank of Bri.Gen.

Brigadier General:

Brigadier is a Nigerian Army rank above colonel typically commanding a brigade of several thousand soldiers.


Colonel, abbreviated as Col. is a senior military officer rank below the brigadier and general officer ranks.

Lieutenant colonel:

Lieutenant colonel is another commissioned officer in the Nigerian Army which is above the rank of a Major. A lieutenant colonel is typically in charge of a battalion in the army.


Major is a military rank of commissioned officer status, with corresponding ranks existing in many military forces throughout the world.


The Nigerian army rank of captain is a commissioned officer rank historically corresponding to the command of a company of soldiers.


A lieutenant, abbreviated Lt, is a junior commissioned officer in the Nigerian Arrmy.

Second Lieutenant:

Second lieutenant (called lieutenant in some countries) is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces, comparable to NATO OF-1b rank.

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Officer cadet:

Officer cadet is usually used for Nigerian army cadets during their training to become commissioned officers.

Final thought

We hope this post will go a long way in understanding the ranks in the Nigerian Army for commissioned and non-commissioned officers.

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