As a Nigerian living in Nigeria, you’ve probably seen these officers in different uniforms on the highway, at the airport, at the border when you take a road trip. But who exactly are they, and how are they relevant to you? 

Don’t worry, this article exists to answer your questions. 

Nigerian Air Force

This security agency protects the Nigerian air space and conducts air operations for our security.

Year established: 1964

Key functions:

  • Protect Nigeria’s air space
  • Provide support to ground and sea-borne forces
  • Supply sophisticated electromagnetic equipment, which are usually airborne, for use in electronic warfare

State Security Service

Source: ICIR

Also known as the Department of State Security (DSS), this is the primary domestic intelligence agency of Nigeria. Officers in the DSS gather intelligence within the country for the protection of senior government officials, particularly the president and state government.

Year established: 1986

Key functions:

  • Protect and defend the Federal Republic of Nigeria against domestic threats
  • Protect the president, vice president, senator, representatives, governors, other senior officials and their families
  • Protect visiting foreign heads-of-state and government
  • Neutralise security threats, counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency

Nigerian Navy 

Source: PremiumTimes

This security agency is the sea division of the Nigerian Armed Forces. The Navy protects Nigeria’s waters — every part of the open sea within 12 nautical miles of the coast of Nigeria.

Year established: 1959

Key functions:

  • Maintain the naval territory of Nigeria
  • Defend the country from external and internal naval aggression
  • Protect the Nigerian naval borders from violations
  • Enforcement of all national and international maritime laws
  • Fishery protection and upholding environmental laws

Federal Road Safety Commission

Source: Punch

This government agency oversees road safety administration across the country.

Year established: 1988

Key functions:

  • Ensure the safety of Nigerian highway motorists
  • Prevent or minimise accidents on the highway
  • Clear obstruction on any part of the highway
  • Educating drivers, motorists and other members of the public on the proper use of highways
  • Designing and producing driver’s licenses

Nigeria Security and Civil Defence (NSCDC)

Source: Dailypost

This security agency maintains peace and order in the country and protects the civil populace. They’re involved in crisis resolution, protecting important infrastructure like pipelines and supervising activities of private guards.

Year established: 1967

Key functions:

  • Maintenance of peace and order in the society
  • Provision of security and monitoring services before, during and after elections
  • Protection of federal and state government infrastructure and facilities
  • Protection of pipelines from vandalism
  • Supervise the activities of private guard companies

National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA)

Source: NDLEA

The NDLEA eliminates the growing, processing, manufacturing, selling, exporting, distribution, sales, trafficking and usage of hard drugs in Nigeria. NDLEA officials are usually found at international and state borders, airports, highways and seaports, or on regular roads, carrying out random searches based on tip-offs.

Year established: 1990

Key functions:

  • Identification and destruction of farms where cannabis, marijuana and other illicit substances are cultivated
  • Arrest and prosecution of drug barons
  • Mass sensitisation on the dangers of drugs
  • Rehabilitation of drug addicts

Nigerian Customs Service

Source: Punch

This agency is responsible for the collection of customs revenue. It facilitates national and international trade and keeps a security check on smuggling.

Year established: 1891

Key functions:

  • Anti-smuggling activities
  • Licensing and registration of custom agents
  • Collection of revenue such as import and export duties, and other taxes/levies
  • Monitoring foreign exchange utilisation
  • Generating statistics for planning and budgeting
  • Collaboration with other government agencies in all approved ports and border stations

Nigerian Immigration Service

Source: Punch

This security agency is tasked with migration management. It was carved out of the Nigerian Police Force in 1963 to undertake border surveillance and control. The service issues travel documents including the Nigerian passport.

Year established: 1963

Key functions:

  • Issuance of travel documents to bona fide Nigerians in and outside Nigeria
  • Issuance of residence permits to foreigners
  • Border surveillance and patrol
  • Enforcement of immigration laws and regulations

Nigerian Correctional Service

Source: Premium Times

It was called Nigerian Prison Service until President Buhari changed the name in 2019. The service is in charge of managing correctional facilities in the country, established to drive change in offenders and ensure that they’re successfully reintegrated into society once they serve out their sentences. They take citizens into lawful custody by court orders and bring such individuals to court when due.

Year established: 1861

Key functions:

  • Take offenders into legal custody
  • Provide safe, secure and humane custody for inmates
  • Convey remand persons to and from courts in motorised formations
  • Implement reformation and rehabilitation programmes to enhance the reintegration of inmates back into the society
  • Provide support to facilitate speedy case resolutions of persons awaiting trials.


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