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Federal Republic of Nigeria

The Federal Republic of Nigeria was home to three prominent empires prior to colonization by Europe. The Igbo Kingdom of Nri prospered from the 10th century until it lost its sovereignty to Britain in the early 20th century. The Yoruba Kingdoms of Ife and Oyo gained prominence during the 12th and 14th centuries, and holding sway over their territories until the late 18th century when power shifted to the Benin Empire. The Sokoto Caliphate of the north arose during the 19th century, and was one of the most powerful sub-Saharan empires in Africa prior to colonization of the contingent by European nations. The caliphate prospered until 1903, when pressure from European nations causes its overall decline. Britain was the first European nation to seek control over the land that is now Nigeria. On 1 January 1901, the region became a British protectorate, and in 1914 was renamed the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, administered as separate northern and southern provinces. Western education and the development of a modern economy proceeded more rapidly in the south than in the north, with consequences felt in Nigeria's political life ever since. Following the wave of African nationalism that began to take root in the 1950s, Nigeria began pressing for independence and was finally granted this by Britain in 1960.

Almost immediately the northern and southern regions of Nigeria began expressing their divergent cultural and religious identities in the form of three predominating political parties: the Nigerian People's Congress (NPC) in the Islamic north, the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) in the largely Christian south, and the Yoruba-dominated Action Group (AG). In 1961, Southern Cameroon opted to join the Republic of Cameroon, while Northern Cameroon remained with Nigeria, which declared itself a Federal Republic two years later. In 1966, the nation was shaken by several back-to-back military coups d'etat, sparked initially by alleged corruption in the electoral and political processes. The resulting oppression and violence against certain ethnic groups, in particular the Igbo, led to the secession of Eastern Nigeria and the declaration of a new nation, the Republic of Biafra, under the leadership of Lt Colonel Emeka Ojukwu. When the Federal Army launched attacks against Biafra, Nigeria erupted into a civil war that lasted from 6 July 1967 to 15 January 1970. Made famous by the Biafran government's reliance on foreign mercenaries from Europe, Southern Africa and Israel, the fledgling republic was unable to sustain a continued onslaught by the much larger Nigerian military, backed as it was by the support of such states as the UK, Egypt, the USSR, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Niger, and Chad. It is estimated that more than one million people died during the Nigerian Civil War.

The nation continued under military control throughout most of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, with several additional regime changes facilitated by coups d'etat. In 1999 the first president in 33 years to be freely elected took office.

The Nigerian Armed Forces consist of the Army, Navy and Air Force, with an estimated 85,000 active duty personnel. The Nigerian military has been actively involved in peacekeeping roles since 1983, including a prominent role with ECOMOG (Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group), and several missions with the United Nations.

Nigerian Camouflage Patterns

  • During the Nigerian Civil War period, a vertical lizard camouflage pattern was worn by many Federal troops, as well as by some Biafran soldiers. The pattern is of undetermined origin, but appears to be have been influenced by the French and Portuguese designs.


  • In recent years, the most prominent camouflage pattern has been the US m81 woodland design, or one of several variants produced in Asia. In recent years, at least some uniforms have been provided by the US military during USASATMO (USA Security Assistance Training Management Organization) missions.

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  • Also prominent among Nigerian troops in recent years has been the US tricolor desert camouflage pattern, either provided by the USASATMO or sourced through the usual Asian manufacturers.

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  • Nigerian military personnel serving in the Dharfur region of Sudan wore the British desert DPM pattern camouflage.


  • Recently, Nigerian Navy special forces personnel were observed wearing the old Chinese Navy Type 87 blue camouflage design. It is unknown whether the uniforms are ex-PLAN issue or export models made specifically for Nigeria.


  • At least two camouflage designs are worn by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). The first pattern, introduced circa 2012, has a grey-black colorway and seems to be based on woodland-type drawings. The second pattern, dating to 2013 or 2014, seems to be derived from leaf-type drawings, and has a blue or purple tone to it. It would appear both designs are worn concurrently.

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  • The pattern seen here, dating to 2012-13, appears to be a new design introduced for the Nigerian Army, and is seeing increased distribution. Consisting of black, brown and khaki "blotch" shapes on a vivid forest green background, this design is in the process of replacing the previously issued woodland variants.


  • Circa 2014, the desert variation of the above "blotch" design began appearing on Nigerian troops deployed on peacekeeping and training deployments, as well as in combat. The pattern utilizes the same print screen design as the "woodland" version, incorporating olive green, russet brown, and sand-colored shapes on a light khaki background.


  • Also recently adopted is the pattern seen here, worn by Nigerian Navy personnel. The pattern is similar to that worn by the People's Liberation Navy (PLN), but does not seem to have the same colorway.


  • The blue-grey camouflage design seen here is worn by Nigerian Air Force personnel. The design, which may be of Chinese origins, incorporates black, dark grey, and blue-grey shapes on a lavender-grey background.


  • With a light grey colorway, the amoeba-based camouflage design seen below has been worn by officers of the Nigerian Customs Service until recently.