Major General Adamu Tarfa started his education at St Michael Primary School, Kaduna and from there went to the Nigerian Military School, Zaria after which he was enlisted into the military on July 4, 1983 as a member of the 34 Regular Course at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna

A rounded soldier, he has attended various courses locally and oversea, including: Young Officers’ Course (Infantry and Military), Survey and Target Acquisition Course Troop Command Course, Senior Staff Course and Regimental Command Course. Others are: the National Defence Course in Pakistan, Sport Leaders’ Solidary Course, International Humanitarian Law Instructor Course and Advanced Strategic Studies Course in India. He also participated in the African Peace Support Trainers’ Association (APSTA)  Training and Research Colloquium International Intelligence Directors’ course in London, Senior Executive in National and International Security at Harvard Kennedy School, USA; National Studies in Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, USA, Course on Terrorism, Drugs and Kidnapping: the Link and Antidotes by International Security Association, Switzerland,  and Future Indirect Fire Conference at Prague, Czech Republic.

He has held various appointments since enlistment, including Troop Commander, Adjutant, Battery Captain, Battery Command Second-in-Command, Commanding Officer, Staff Officer 1 and 2 at Brigade Headquarters, as well as Staff Officer and Directing Staff at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji. He was also an Instructor (Gunnery) at NASA; Sole Administrator, Bauchi Sports Council; Chairman, Wikki Tourists Football Club, Member Local Organising Committee, Bauchi Zone of Nigeria ‘99 and Chairman, Venue and Facilities; Member, Imo State Hockey Association; and Head of Bauchi State Delegates for National Sport Festival (Owerri 1998).

Other key appointments held by Gen Tarfa include: Deputy Director, Military Secretary 3 and 2, Deputy Director Exercise in Army Headquarters; ACOS Logistics at HQ NACA; Deputy Commandant, Nigerian Army Peace-Keeping Centre; Directing Staff at the National Defence College; Director, Plans at the Army Headquarters; Commandant, NASA; Deputy Commandant, National Defence College; Director of Military Intelligence; Commander NACA, Commandant, Martins Luther Agwai International Peace-Keeping and Leadership Centre; and Commander,  Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC),  Nigerian Army. He has won several decorations and awards in the course of service, including; Force Servicer Star (FSS), Meritorious Service Star (MSS), Distinguished Service Star (DSS), Grand Service Star (GSS), Passed Ju