A tool from Security Force Monitor


Overview of Coverage

The Security Force Monitor’s current dataset comprehensively covers the Nigerian armed forces and the Nigeria Police Force in the states of Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Enugu, Kano, Katsina, Lagos, Ogun, Plateau, Rivers and Yobe from roughly 2008 to 2018. Additional research (detailed below) will focus on other elements of the security forces of Nigeria. If you have public data that can add to our coverage or need support in your investigations, please get in touch: info [at] securityforcemonitor.org

General Background on Security Forces

Nigeria has security forces with different responsibilities for internal security. Crime fighting is the prime responsibility of the Nigeria Police Force. The State Security Service focuses on threats to national security. The Nigerian Armed Forces, comprising the Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Army and Nigerian Navy, are also very active in internal security operations, particularly against Boko Haram. The Nigerian Army is generally the branch most closely involved in internal security operations. Security forces in Nigeria are generally national in character with the President of Nigeria as the commander-in-chief of the respective forces.

Administrative Division of Nigeria

Administratively, Nigeria has a federal structure with 36 states and a Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Each state and the FCT is broken up into Local Government Areas (LGA). There are 776 LGAs throughout the country.

Security Forces of Nigeria


The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) is the national police force of Nigeria. The NPF is under control of the president and headed by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) who is appointed by the President. The command structure flows from the IGP at Force Headquarters through Zonal Police Commands, each of which oversee police operations in at least two states and/or the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Each State and the FCT has a Police Command headed by a Commissioner of Police who commands police operations in the state or FCT. Each Police Command also has a Criminal Investigation Department and a Special Anti Robbery Squad (the command structure for Special Anti Robbery Squad units has changed multiple times). Police Commands are divided into several Police Area Commands which are under the command of the Police Command. Police Area Commands are further divided into Police Divisions, which usually headed by a Chief Superintendent of Police and often referred to by their title, Divisional Police Officer. Police Divisions can also be under the direct command of their respective Police Command. Police Divisions in turn command the smaller formation of Police Stations which in turn command Police Posts. The smallest formation of the NPF is the Village Police Post which can be commanded by either a Police Post or Police Division, depending on the structure of the police formations in that particular area.

Additionally, the Police Mobile Force (PMF, MOPOL or Mobile Police), are the riot police of the Nigerian Police Force, and report directly to Force Headquarters. The PMF is broken up into squadrons with each state and the FCT having at least one squadron.

Department of State Security or State Security Service

The Department of State Security or State Security Service (DSS or SSS) is responsible for maintaining internal order and operates nationwide. The SSS is broken up into state commands headed by a Director of Security (commonly referred to as Director). The state commands are then under the command of the Director General of the SSS. The state commands may be further divided into branches covering each local government area of a state or the FCT.

Nigerian Armed Forces/Military

The President of Nigeria is the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, and generally commands the forces through the Chief of Defense Staff who heads Defence Headquarters. The Minister of Defence is not in the chain of command, but provides administrative support to the military.

The Nigerian Armed Forces is broken up into independent branches - Nigerian Army (NA), Nigerian Navy (NN) and Nigerian Air Force (NAF). The army is the largest branch in terms of personnel and plays the major role in internal security. The head of each branch of the Armed Forces reports to the Chief of Defence Staff/Defence Headquarters.

Nigerian Army

The Army is under the command of the Chief of Army Staff who reports to the Chief of Defence Staff.

Operationally the Nigerian Army is organized into Divisions (a division is about 10,000 soldiers), the 1 Mechanised Division, 2 Mechanised Division, 3 Armoured Division, 81 Division, 82 Division, 7 Division, 8 Task Force Division and 6 Division. There is also an independent brigade, the Guards Brigade, charged with protecting the president and the Federal Capital Territory which reports directly to the President.

Each Division has several Brigades under its command and also has support units including and also has support units including an Engineering Division (or a Division of Engineers), a Signals Division (despite their name these formations are much smaller than 10,000 soldiers) and a Garrison unit. Each Brigade generally has three battalions or artillery regiments under its command as well as a Garrison unit. (The deployment of forces to the north east to battle Boko Haram has complicated the picture somewhat).

Nigerian Navy

.The Navy is under the command of the Chief of Naval Staff who reports to the Chief of Defence Staff.

Operationally the Nigerian Navy is divided into the Western, Eastern and Central Naval Commands, each headed by a Flag Officer Commanding.

Nigerian Air Force

The Air Force under the command of the Chief of Air Staff who, in turn, reports to the Chief of Defence Staff.

Operationally, the Nigerian Air Force is divided into several operational commands - Tactical Air Command, Mobility Command, Training Command, Logistics Command - which report to the Chief of Air Staff.

Joint Task Forces

Several Joint Task Forces (JTFs) operate and have operated throughout Nigeria. The mission profile and makeup of these JTFs have varied, though they generally include a police and army component. Most JTFs appear to have been commanded by army officers.

Outstanding Areas for Further Reearch

  • Inclusion of additional details on units and commanders for Nigeria Police Force units in the Federal Capital Territory and the following states: Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Sokoto, Taraba, Zamfara.
  • Identifying additional details on individual units and personnel as needed to fill any gaps in the records of units and commanders of the armed forces of Nigeria during the timeframe of 2008 to 2018.
  • Investigating other priorities as guided by partners concerned about the human rights practices of the security forces of Nigeria.