Nigeria Military - 2021


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Military and security forces

Nigerian Armed Forces: Army, Navy (includes Coast Guard), Air Force; Ministry of Interior: Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC, a paramilitary agency commissioned to assist the military in the management of threats to internal security, including attacks and natural disasters) (2021)

Military expenditures

0.5% of GDP (2019)

0.5% of GDP (2018)

0.4% of GDP (2017)

0.4% of GDP (2016)

0.4% of GDP (2015)

country comparison to the world: 158

Military and security service personnel strengths

size estimates for the Nigerian Armed Forces vary; approximately 135,000 active personnel (100,000 Army; 20,000 Navy/Coast Guard; 15,000 Air Force); est. 80,000 Security and Civil Defense Corps (2020)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Nigerian Armed Forces' inventory consists of a wide variety of imported weapons systems of Chinese, European, Middle Eastern, Russian (including Soviet-era), and US origin; since 2010, Nigeria has undertaken a considerable military modernization program, and has received equipment from some 20 countries with China, Russia, and the US as the leading suppliers; Nigeria has been the largest arms importer in sub-Saharan Africa since 2014; Nigeria is also developing a defense-industry capacity, including small arms, armored personnel vehicles, and small-scale naval production (2020)

Military deployments

200 Ghana (ECOMIG); MNJTF (1 brigade or approximately 3,000 troops committed; note - the national MNJTF troop contingents are deployed within their own country territories, although cross‐border operations are conducted periodically) (2021)

Military service age and obligation

18-26 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2019)

Maritime threats

the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial and offshore waters in the Niger Delta and Gulf of Guinea remain a very high risk for piracy and armed robbery of ships; in 2020, there were 98 reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea region; although a 24% decrease from the total number of incidents in 2019, it included all three hijackings and 9 of 11 ships fired upon worldwide; while boarding and attempted boarding to steal valuables from ships and crews are the most common types of incidents, almost a third of all incidents involve a hijacking and/or kidnapping; in 2020, a record 130 crew members were kidnapped in 22 separate incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, representing 95% of kidnappings worldwide; approximately 51% of all incidents of piracy and armed robbery are taking place off Nigeria, which is a decrease from the 71% in 2019 and an indication pirates are traveling further to target vessels; Nigerian pirates are well armed and very aggressive, operating as far as 200 nm offshore; the Maritime Administration of the US Department of Transportation has issued a Maritime Advisory (2021-002 - Gulf of Guinea-Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping for Ransom) effective 9 January 2021, which states in part, "Piracy, armed robbery, and kidnapping for ransom continue to serve as significant threats to US-flagged vessels transiting or operating in the Gulf of Guinea.”

Military - note

the Nigerian Armed Forces are used primarily for internal security operations; in the northeast, the military is conducting counterinsurgency/counter-terrorist operations against the Boko Haram (BH) and Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) terrorist groups, where it has deployed as many as 70,000 troops at times and jihadist-related violence has killed an estimated 35,000 people, mostly civilians, since 2009 (as of Dec 2020); in the northwest, it faces threats from criminal gangs, bandits, and militants associated with ongoing farmer-herder violence, as well as BH and ISWA terrorists; the military also focuses on the Niger Delta region to protect the oil industry against militants and criminal activity, although the levels of violence there have decreased in recent years; in May 2021, a contingent of military troops and police were deployed to eastern Nigeria to quell renewed agitation for a state of Biafra (Biafra seceded from Nigeria in the late 1960s, sparking a civil war that caused more than 1 million deaths)

NOTE: The information regarding Nigeria on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Nigeria 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Nigeria 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.