The first seed of what later became the Nigerlan Armed Forces was planted when, in 1862. Lt. Glover of the Royal Navy , then governor of Lagos, organised a group of 18 armed Hausas into a militia known as "Glover Hausas." This group, which later increased to 40, in conjunction with the West Indian regiment, provided security for Lagos. Later again, they increased to 100, were renamed "Lagos Constabulary"and eventually took over the garrisoning of Lagos from the West Indian regiment.
In 1886, when the Royal Niger Company was granted a charter by the British government, it became necessary to extend protection to British trading interests in the north. The Royal Niger Constabulary was thus formed as the second indigenous military force with the assignment of protecting all business interests of the Royal Niger Company.
This constabulary constituted the nucleus of the 1 and 2 battalions of the Northern Nigeria Regiment in 1900. In response to the frequent conflicts between Liverpool traders and Brass men on one hand, and the Royal Niger Company on the other, the third constabulary was formed by Major M. McDonald in 1890 and called the Oil Rivers Irregulars (also nicknamed the Forty Thieves). In 1891, it was renamed the Niger Coast Constabulary with its headquarters at Calabar.
Apart from their general police duties, the constabularies were raised primarily to subjugate local opposition to British penetration and rule in Nigeria and to serve as an auxiliary force for strengthening British forces in their bid to stop any reckless expansionism by rival foreign powers like France and Germany. These constabularies remained in that status till 1897.
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