Nigerian Air Force including its size, bases, ranks, and insignia of officers and members; number and names of those with the rank of Wing Commander [NGA34154.E]

Sources report the size of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) as 9,500 personnel (The Military Balance 1997/98 1997, 254; Nigeria: A Country Study 1992; Africa South of the Sahara 1998. 1997, 818). However, a 25 August 1999 Jane's Defence Weekly article on the reduction in size of Nigeria's armed forces from 80,000 to 50,000, stated that the NAF would be reduced to 10,000.

Nigeria: A Country Study reported in 1992 that

the NAF was organized into four specialized air commands: Tactical Air (Headquartered in Makurdi), Training (Kaduna), Logistics (Ikeja), and Airlift (Idadan), which was formed in June 1988. There were fifteen major air bases, the largest located at Benin, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Makurdi, and Port Harcourt. In December 1986, the Tactical Air Command announced the establishment of a unit of Aermacchi MB-339AN trainers at Calabar to defend the airspace in the region and to support international missions necessitated by Nigeria's prominent role in African defense. The chief of air staff announced in October 1987 that the NAF would build an air base in Sokoto State to check violations of the country's airspace.

The following information was provided by an Analyst with the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas during a 28 March 2000 telephone interview.

The analyst stated that he obtained his information from "Periscope" which is a database of defence and military information. The analyst stated that as of 1 April 1999 the NAF had three fighter/attack squadrons, two transport squadrons, one helicopter squadron, and one training school squadron. NAF bases cited in this source are: Benin, Kaduna, Kano, Makurdi, and Port Harcourt, with Lagos as the headquarters. He also provided a list of 20 Nigerian airports identified by the Airport Search Engine (ASE) (28 Mar. 2000b). However, the list does not indicate which are part of the armed forces:

ABV Abuja, AKR Akure, BCU Bauchi, BNI Benin City, CBQ Calabar, ENU Enugu, IBA Ibadan, ILR Ilorin, JOS Jos, KAD Kaduna, KAN Kano, LOS Lagos (Murtala Muhammed), MDI Makurdi, MIU Maiduguri, MXJ Minna, PHC Port Harcourt (Omagwa), QUS Gusau, SKO Sokoto, YOL Yola, ZAR Zaria,

The analyst was unable to provide a list of NAF wing commanders.

In other references to NAF bases, a 22 September 1999 Jane's Defence Weekly article stated that the NAF "training school for combat helicopter pilots has been relocated from the southern city of Port Harcourt to its original base in Enugu." A 4 August 1999 Nigeria News Network article referred to an airport at the "Nigerian Air Force Detachment, Benin." A 1 May 1999 Post Express article stated that the NAF Re-Union 99 was held in Port Harcourt. A 9 July 1999 Post Express article referred to "the Air Force Military school in Jos" as well as an airport.

The following information was provided during a 29 March 2000 telephone interview with the Defence Analyst (Air) of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. He stated that although he has not been to Nigeria, his understanding is that the NAF has three commands: tactical, logistics, and training. He was able to name five NAF bases that he knew to have active operations: Kaduna, Kano, Maduguri, and Makurdi with Lagos as NAF headquarters. He named Kainji and Yola as two other bases, but stated he was unsure of their operational status. He also said that there could be other NAF bases which he is not aware of.

The Defence Analyst (Air) stated that the NAF is modelled after the Royal Air Force (RAF) and that its rank system would reflect that of the RAF. The ranks, in order of increasing authority, are: Pilot Officer, Flying Officer, Flight Lieutenant, Squadron Leader, Wing Commander, Group Captain, Air Commodore, Air Vice Marshal, Air Marshal, and Air Chief Marshal. However, he expressed his understanding that the NAF does not have any officers above the rank of Air Vice-Marshal which is the equivalent of a two-star general (29 Mar. 2000). He was unable to provide a list of NAF Wing Commanders or their number.

However, a 30 December 1998 Post Express report referred to Air Marshals Al-Anuin Daggash and Nsikak Eduok as Chiefs of Defence and Air Staffs. Other NAF ranks mentioned in documentary sources are Group Captain, Squadron Leader, and Air Commodore (ibid. 12 June 1999; ibid. 22 Apr. 1997; Nigeria News Network 11 June 1999).

While the Research Directorate was unable to obtain a list, or number, of Nigerian Wing Commanders (W/C) in the sources consulted, the following are some individuals identified as Wing Commanders in the documentary sources consulted: W/C Kufuji (Post Express 22 June 1997); Director of Public Relations and Information, W/C Yusuf Anas (ibid. 6 Dec. 1999); Borno State Administrator W/C Lawal Haruna (ibid. 23 Oct. 1998); W/C A.L. Abashi (ibid. 22 Apr. 1997); Bauchi State Administrator W/C Abdullahi Adamu Mishelia (ibid. 13 Aug. 1998); W/C Tunde Sodei (ibid. 9 Nov. 1998); Nasarawa State Administrator W/C Ibrahim Abdullahi (ibid. 1 June 1998); W/C O.O. Sote, W/C P.U. Iweze, W/C A. Tukuru, and W/C T.D. Oroso, all retired by the Federal Government (ibid. 11 June 1999; NTA TV 9 June 1999); W/C N. Okoronkwo retired by the Federal Government (ibid.); W/C Peter Biakpara (rtd), "special adviser to the governor on Niger Delta Matters" (Nigeria News Network 11 Feb. 2000); Administrator of Anambra State, W/C Emmanuel Ukaegbu (ibid. 28 Apr. 1999); W/C Emmanuel Ukaegbu and W/C A. Mshelia, both retired by the Federal Government (ibid. 11 June 1999); Murtala Mohammed International Airport commandant W/C J.E. Obiahor (redeployed) and new commandant W/C Morgan (ibid. 23 Sept. 1999); W/C M.B. Togunloju, W/C L.D. James, and W/C T.L.A. Shekete identified as having been sentenced to jail for fraud, with W/C I.P.Iyen "on the run" (AFP 22 Oct. 1996); and, Ogun State military administrator W/C Sam Ewang (AFP 15 June 1997).

No information on NAF insignia could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Africa South of the Sahara 1998. 1997. 27th ed. London: Europa Publications.

Agence France Presse (AFP). 15 June 1997. "Nigeria: Military Officer: Abacha Not Tempted by Civilian Presidency." (FBIS-AFR-97-116 15 June 1997/WNC)

_____. 22 October 1996. "Nine Top Nigerian Aif Force Officers Jailed for Fraud." (NEXIS)

Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO)Leavenworth, KS. 28 March 2000a. Telephone interview with analyst.

_____. 28 March 2000b. Correspondence from analyst.

FMSO "researches, writes and publishes from unclassified sources about the military establishments, doctrines and strategic, operational and tactical practices of selected foreign armed forces. ...

FMSO provides direct support to the senior U.S. Army and Department of Defense leadership and general support to the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center. FMSO's three major areas of concentration are geo-strategy, operational art and tactics, and operations other than war, including "grey-area" phenomena. A support section provides translation, research database, library, automation and administrative support."

International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), London. 29 March 2000. Telephone interview with Defence Analyst (Air).

Jane's Defence Weekly [Surrey, U.K.]. 22 September 1999. "NAF Training Base Relocated." (NEXIS)

_____. 25 August 1999. Segun Adeyemi. "Nigeria to Prune 30,000 From Forces." (NEXIS)

The Military Balance 1997-1998. 1997. London: International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Nigeria: A Country Study. 1992. Edited by Helen Chapin Metz. Washington, DC: Federal Library of Congress, Research Division. [Accessed 23 Mar. 2000]

Nigeria News Network. 11 February 1999. "Delta Donates N100,000 to Anti-Piracy Group." [Accessed 28 Mar. 2000]

_____. 23 September 1999. "U.S. May Lift Five-Year Flight Ban on Nigeria" [Accessed 28 Mar. 2000]

_____.4 August 1999. "Ikazoboh to Get Full Military Honours at Burial." [Accessed 28 Mar. 2000]

_____. 11 June 1999. "Obasanjo Drops Axe on 93 Military Officers." [Accessed 28 Mar. 2000]

_____. 28 April 1999. "Victims Flood Hospitals, Clash Shifts to River." [Accessed 28 Mar. 2000]

NTA TV [Lagos, in English]. 9 June 1999. "More Navy, Air Force and Army Officers Made to Retire." (BBC Summary 12 June 1999/NEXIS)

Post Express [Lagos]. 6 December 1999. Philip Nwosu. "Air Force Probes Collapsed Aeromedical Centre." [Accessed 23 Mar. 2000]

_____. 9 July 1999. "Entrance Exam Results for Military Schools Out." [Accessed 23 Mar. 2000]

_____. 12 June 1999. Philip Nwosu. "FG Retires All Ex-Military Governors, Ministers, Others." [Accessed 23 Mar. 2000]

_____. 11 June 1999. Jude Owuamanam. "More Military Chiefs Retired." [Accessed 23 Mar. 2000]

_____. 1 May 1999. Adagogo Brown. "Akhigbe Mobilises Support for Civilian Govt." [Accessed 23 Mar. 2000]

_____.30 December 1998. Philip Nwosu. "Military Officers Charged to Ensure Hitch-Free Election." [Accessed 23 Mar. 2000]

_____. 9 November 1998. Jude Okwe. "Nefarious Activities Dent FRSC's Image." [Accessed 23 Mar. 2000]

_____. 23 October 1998. Mato Adamu. "Haruna Threatens to Sack Managers of Borno Firms." [Accessed 23 Mar. 2000]

_____. 13 August 1998. Mfon Ekefre, Tijani Waziri and Doye Dapp. "Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Zamfara Administrators Resume Duty." [Accessed 23 Mar. 2000]

_____. 1 June 1998. Patrick Odey. "Nasarawa Owes Transport Agency N3.7m." [Accessed 23 Mar. 2000]

_____. 22 June 1997. Agaju Madugba. "Jailed Airman's Wife Sues NAF for N5m." [Accessed 23 Mar. 2000]

_____. 22 April 1997. Philip Nwosu. "Diya Canvasses Airforce's Support for Decmoracy." [Accessed 23 Mar. 2000]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases



World News Connection (WNC)

Internet sites including:

Canadian Forces College

D-Net (Department of National Defence)

Federation of American Scientists (FAS)

The Henry L. Stimson Center

HQ Air Force Doctrine Center (United States)

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)

U.S. Department of Defense

War, Peace and Security Guide: Information Resource Centre, Canadian Forces College

Search engines including:

Africa Intelligence Online