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Teenager in viral burial notice, not soldier as claimed

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Claim: Viral Tiktok video suggests a 15-year-old died in service as a soldier. 

<strong>Teenager in viral burial notice, not soldier as claimed</strong>

Verdict: MISLEADING! Our findings reveal that the deceased was a student of a Nigerian Military School, who are referred to as “Boy Soldiers,” even though they are not active soldiers. 

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The Nigerian military, also known as the Nigerian Armed Forces (NAF), was established in 1960. The NAF consists of three service branches: the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy, and the Nigerian Air Force. 

The role of the NAF, which includes the defence of the nation’s territorial integrity, is entrenched in sections 217-220 of the 1999 constitution. 

The NAF is said to be the fourth most powerful military in Africa and ranked 39 out of the 145 countries in the world by Global Fire Ranking.

Its training establishments include the Nigerian Military School, Zaria, Nigeria Defence Academy, Airforce Military School, Jos, Nigerian Navy Secondary School, Ogun, and National Defence College.  

Recently, a TikTok video showed the obituary of a teenager, 15, dressed in a Nigerian Army uniform, celebrating him as a military king. The boy, identified as Hena David, was said to have recently passed. However, the obituary details revealed that the deceased is a Nigerian Military School student (NMS), seeing he had an NMS registration number (NMS/20/8771B/PTE). 

<strong>Teenager in viral burial notice, not soldier as claimed</strong>
Screenshot of Hena David’s obituary. Photo source: Tiktok. 

This post, as of Tuesday, Jan 23. 2024, garnered 2,838 likes and 264 comments and was saved 174 times.  

Despite the detail in the obituary, the clip generated questions about the recruitment age for the Nigerian Military from people who believed the young man was a military officer. 

“Do deh recruit 15 years into the military?” Alaboy commented. 

Another TikTok user, Sammybanks, wrote, “How 15 take enter uniform or is he a cadet?”

These questions and the possible controversy they could stir prompted us to investigate the video.

About NMS and its requirements

NMS, established in 1954, is a school created to train Nigerian boys with academic and military skills. Yearly, NMS opens admission for suitably qualified candidates to apply. This is strictly for Junior secondary class one students. Also, part of the admission requirement is that the candidates must have completed their primary school.  

According to one of its application calls, the age requirement for enrolment is 12 years old, and the candidate must be a medically and physically fit Nigerian. 

Are NMS students soldiers?

According to the welcome address on the NMS website, boys enroll in NMS to receive comprehensive academic and military training adequate for their enlistment into the Nigerian Army as soldiers. So, they only become qualified to be soldiers after completing their education and training. 

Mr David’s registration number in the school indicates he was a student before his demise. 

We spoke to a former student of NMS, Nanmwa Miri, who clarified the situation, noting NMS students are not active soldiers but are referred to as “Boy Soldiers.” 

“They are called Boy Soldiers because as soon as they pass out, NMS gives them a secondary school education and military training. Once they pass out, they become soldiers posted to different units.

“They are getting all the military training you can get. When people go to Deport for six months and come out as recruits, NMS boys go through that for six years in the NMS but slowly because they are combining academic and military training. So, NMS is just a military secondary school. It trains you to become a soldier after you finish without going to Depot,”  Mr Miri narrated.

We reached out to the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the NMS Ex-Boys Association, Izaddin Chafe, who clarified that the deceased was a student of the military school who died after a prolonged illness.

“He is an SS1 student of NMS. He was in training to become a soldier. Usually, after six years of training in NMS, one passes out to become a soldier. By that time, he must have reached the age of 18 years. In his case, he had a medical condition that left him on admission at the school (NMS) hospital for some weeks. He was attended to, but when the illness became severe, he was referred to Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH). Unfortunately, he gave up his ghost upon reaching ABUTH,” Mr Chafe narrated. 


Our findings revealed that the deceased in the viral TikTok video, Hena David, was an NMS student before his passing. He was not a soldier and died due to a prolonged illness.  

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