General Lagbaja at 56: Skilled in Airborne and Amphibious Warfare, Morale Booster to Troops, Human Rights Advocate to Civilians


... Between Lagbaja, National Security and Human Rights : A Birthday Gift

Lt General Taoreed Abiodun Lagbaja,  the current Nigeria Chief of Army Staff is a year00 older today and the most attractive side of the birthday army general is his efforts for advocating and upholding human rights which is efficient towards National Security objectives. 

The Ilobu of Irepodun Osun State born is a well-skilled, trained General who was  ‘Trained to Fight in Air, Land And Water during his over three decades of service in the Nigerian Army.  He is trained extensively in both airborne and amphibious warfare.

His physical fitness and articulate composition and his clear delivery of motivational remarks, whenever he visits his troops at the frontline cannot be compared to the natural morale booster received by his troops at every operational visit. 

One of the most significant steps General Lagbaja took was the birth of the Nigerian Army Seminar on Human Rights on September 3rd, 2023 barely 4 months as the Chief of Army Staff with the maiden theme "National Security and the Complexities of Human Rights; quite apt and aligns with current realities in Nigeria. The Nigerian Army on Human Rights Seminar was conceptualised to engage organizations, security agencies, media and other stakeholders involved in human rights advocacy and the protection of civilians in conflict areas on the issues relating to human rights during conflicts. The protection of civilians and their basic rights requires special attention as it takes up a lot of field commanders' time.

General Lagbaja at the maiden of the seminar revealed that, to ensure commonality in understanding and practice of respect to Human Rights amongst personnel the Nigerian Army is currently collaborating and interfacing with human rights advocacy groups in all theatres of operation to harness the efforts of citizens in a "whole of the nation approach" because the operations are conducted within civilian populated areas. Practical understanding of the issues relating to human rights is varied and challenging, especially in contemporary military operations. 

General Lagbaja's swift operational visit to Plateau State’s problematic Mangu local government area to assess the various Communities that have been subjected to attacks and killings, launched Operation Hakorin Damisa 4 in the area to restore total peace. Barely 6 months after,  he returned on the 31st of December, 2023, because of what happened on Christmas Eve, another round of violence in Mangu. He visited the scenes of the skirmishes in the Mangu local government area of Plateau State to see things for himself before addressing the troops at the Mini Stadium in Mangu, frowned at the renewed violence and encouraged the troops to remain focused and deliver positive results. He said the violence in Mangu is complex because people have imputed religion, and ethnicity, but as soldiers, General Lagbaja asked them to focus on one thing. Every lawbreaker must be apprehended. With that symbolic motivation, there were massive arrests of Mangu violence extremists 

What about the visitation to the Tudun Biri community, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State to commiserate and tender unreserved apologies to the victims of the accidental bomb that claimed over 80 lives on Sunday? The army chief also visited the injured victims at the Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital, Kaduna and donated N10 million for their treatment and upkeep. Still trying to search my history book to see if the Nigerian Army's past Chiefs ever apologised for an accidental bomb on civilians but General Taoreed Lagbaja did it. This led to the winning the hearts of millions of Nigerians as they in large numbers thanked the Army Chief for not only visiting the scene of the accidental discharge but supporting the victims with cash donations.

Enough of my long episodes of digging out General Lagbaja's special qualities, let me share his journey into the Nigerian Army. He was admitted into the Nigerian Defence Academy in the year 1987 as a member of the 39th Regular Course. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant on 19 September 1992 into the Nigerian Infantry Corps. Between 1992 and 1995, Lagbaja was platoon commander of the 93 Battalion. From 1995 to 2001, he was platoon commander of 72 Special Forces Battalion. In 2001, Lagbaja obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from the Nigerian Defence Academy. He studied Strategic Studies at the US Army War College at the Master’s level.

He was an instructor at the Nigerian Defence Academy from 2001 to 2004. At a time, Lagbaja was a Grade 2 Staff Officer in charge of peacekeeping at the Army Headquarters Department of Army Training and Operations. Then he was a Directing Staff at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji from 2006 to 2009.

In 2009, he became Deputy Chief of Staff G1 at Headquarters 81 Division and subsequently, he became Commanding Officer at 72 Special Forces Battalion Makurdi from 2012 to 2013 and 2014 to 2015. In 2016, he was named the Chief of Staff at Headquarters 8 Task Force Division, Monguno. He served as Director of Operations at the Army Headquarters Department of Army Training and Operations from January to December 2018. 

He was a Commander of Headquarters 9 Brigade, Ikeja, Lagos State and Headquarters 2 Brigade, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. Before his new appointment, Lagbaja was General Officer Commanding Headquarters 82 Division from March 2021 to August 2022 and Headquarters 1 Division from August 2022 to June 2023. Earlier in 2008, he attended the Military Observers Course on Peacekeeping Wing at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry Jaji (February – May 2008) and ECOWAS Standby Force Battalion Command Post Course – Peacekeeping Centre, Bamako, Mali – (June – August 2010). He started his career as a second lieutenant and he is currently a lieutenant general, a rank he was promoted to in July 2023.

Lagbaja participated in Operation HARMONY IV in Bakassi Peninsula; United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC); Operation ZAKI Internal Security Operation in Benue State; Operation LAFIYA DOLE; Operation MESA/Operation UDO KA – March 2021 – August 2022 – Internal Security Operation in South-east Nigeria (Anambra/Abia/Ebonyi/Enugu and Imo States); and Operation FOREST SANITY – Aug 2022 to 2023 – Internal Security Operation in Kaduna/Niger states.

He is married to Mariya Abiodun-Lagbaja and the marriage is blessed with 2 children. Mr Lagbaja enjoys watching documentaries and reading biographies.

Oluwapelumi Olayemi Esan is the MD/CEO of Spye Comm. Ltd (SpyeTV), a Defence Correspondent and a member of NIPR.  She can be contacted via or +234803-513-2961

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