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Organization Profile - National Intelligence Agency of Nigeria (NIA)

Organization: National Intelligence Agency of Nigeria (NIA)

Date of Activity: June 1986 – Present

Area of Operations: Nigeria (Headquarters are in Abuja)

Overview: The Nigerian military is one of the largest and most known armed forces in Africa with approximately 135,000 active-duty armed forces and 80,000 Security and Civil Defense Corps. With Nigeria’s population expected to double by 2050, the growth rate is only increasing. The National Intelligence Agency was formed once the Nigerian Security Organization (NSO) ended and the security services were reconstructed. Three agencies were created: the National Intelligence Agency, State Security Service (SSS), and the defense intelligence agency (DIA). These agencies were created after decree 19 was issued by the previous General, Ibrahim Babangida. Since then, Nigeria has formed many new relations.

One of Nigeria’s closest and growing relations is with China. Chinese businesses have been thriving in Nigeria and contributing to economic growth. This is because Nigeria is offering many opportunities for commercial and trade. In fact, consultant and co-author Matthew Page states that Nigeria’s “massive population sets it apart as one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing consumer markets for Chinese goods” and that “Nigerian imports from China have nearly doubled from 2010 to 2016”. On the other hand, China has also been the reason for an increased amount of illegal mining, fishing, and logging.

Not only has China aided Nigeria in economic growth, but also supported Nigeria when they were fighting Boko Haram. Boko Haram is an Islamic sect whose goal is to create a “pure” Islamic state. Nigeria’s trade, intel, and energy sources could all be potential reasons for China to want to maintain and grow its relations with Nigeria. With this, Nigeria has been able to grow its forces and has bought military weapons from Beijing. They have also updated their telecommunication industry which is now dominated by Chinese technology. This could become problematic since the United States and China support different systems. Nigeria may be forced to “pick sides”.


  • To be considered for Nigeria’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA), one must be a Nigerian between 18-35 years old, must have a valid ID, and must be physically and mentally fit for service.

  • Candidates can fill out applications online and some are recruited while at college. Candidates are required to have the West African School Certificate (WASC) and/or a secondary school certificate (SSC).

  • The Nigerian government is known to have human rights violations as well as being corrupt and violent. For example, there have been multiple occasions where security forces have used excessive force that has led to injury or death in response to anti-government protests. These security forces have beaten, tortured, detained, and wrongfully imprisoned many people including innocent civilians. This excessive violence typically goes unpunished. Many antigovernment protests have formed because of this.

  • The Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) has stated that “Corruption is rampant at all levels of government in Nigeria. This corruption facilitates narcotics trafficking and money laundering and hinders counternarcotic efforts”. The harassment and violations are seldom held accountable and are continuously growing.

  • The NIA has also infringed on many of the citizens’ rights. Government authorities have frozen citizens’ bank accounts for aiding protesters. It is stated that “police arrested dozens of protesters and held them incommunicado for many hours or days, denied them access to lawyers, and brought trumped-up charges against several of them”.

Recent Activity:

  • One of the more recent and known events concerning Nigeria’s National Intelligence Agency is their raid of an Abuja-based news website. The raid occurred after several web articles were released about the NIA director, Ahmed Rufai Abubaker. Four of the National Intelligence Agency officials raided the headquarters of this news station and demanded the copy of the memo in the articles and the names of the source and writers. It was stated that these officials threatened to use “other options” if the information requested was not given to them. The NIA has also blocked many news stations and journalists since then.

  • In 2019, Ayodele Oke, the former director of the NIA, had a warrant issued out for his arrest being charged with theft and money laundering. He was suspended from the NIA in 2017.

  • In July 2021, there were forced evacuations leaving over 400 families out of their own homes in the Iddo Sark community. “In January 2022, nearly 2000 people in Elechi Phase 1 waterfront community in Port Harcourt, have been displaced from their homes and tens of thousands of people in 15 neighboring communities are under imminent threat of forced evictions. The demolitions not only violated people’s right to adequate housing but also negatively impacted their livelihoods”.


Analytical Assessment:

With Nigeria’s population, economy, and relations with China growing. There are many risk factors to consider. The Chinese Embassy has stated that “the military and security cooperation between the two countries are getting closer and closer". Nigeria has already begun using Chinese weapons and technology. It has been advised to Nigeria to not forfeit its sovereignty to China. Page advises that “Officials should widen the scope of existing US-Nigeria intelligence sharing arrangements to permit geospatial intelligence imagery, financial intelligence, and maritime tracking data related to illegal extraction activities to Nigerian law enforcement, the Ministry of Mines and Steel, and the Ministry of Agriculture”.

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