Risk analysis for employee safety and business continuity during student protests in Nigeria

Nigeria can be a challenging operating environment for businesses for many reasons, but university students probably don’t spring to mind as a major concern. Recent student protests, however, have caused major upheaval and disruption, and we have worked with clients in the last 12 months to assess the risks and make mitigating decisions.
student-protests

International travel bans cause tensions 

In December 2021, the UK and Canada put Nigeria on their “red list” for Covid travel. This meant visitors from Nigeria entering either country had to quarantine, at their own considerable expense, for 10 days. The Nigerian high commissioner to the UK, Sarafa Tunji Isola, called the move “travel apartheid”,1 and there was widespread discontent about the restrictions – both in Nigeria and amongst Nigerians abroad.  

 

In Nigeria, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) threatened to disrupt diplomatic operations for the UK and Canada in protest over the restrictions. Previous NANS actions, as recently as September 2021, included protests at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway, and in Iwo Road, Ibadan. NANS members mobilized to shut down other critical transportation infrastructure in southern Nigeria, too, causing massive traffic disruptions. 

 

One of Intelyse’s clients is based in an embassy in Nigeria, and was concerned about the implications of the NANS protests. They sent an urgent request for an assessment of the situation. Being based in an embassy comes with specific risks. Embassy buildings can be attractive targets for terrorist attacks, and embassy staff are at risk – especially when traveling – of kidnap, RTAs, and targeted killings. Against this backdrop, it is essential that the client has access to accurate, timely, knowledge-based analysis and advice.  

Delivering quick, real-time, comprehensive risk analysis 

We immediately provided an evaluation of both current events and likely next steps, including a scan of social media to distill facts from gossip and conjecture. As well as receiving our Nigeria-specific fortnightly Threat Assessments and analysis, thrice-weekly country updates, Spot Reports on any major incidents, and access to our platform, our clients also have access to on-demand security assessments and requests for information (RFIs). This puts them in the best possible position to keep their staff, operations, and resources safe and secure.  

Our report was supported by contextual analysis of protests over the previous year, drawn from our verified database with more than 27,000 logged events across Nigeria. The data included locations, motivations for protests, outcomes, and instances of violence, and our analysis noted that protests often block critical infrastructure, including travel routes. We therefore included advice for upcoming travel, and we continue to provide Spot Reports on ongoing NANS protests as they impact travel in key cities.  

 

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Results

Our client was able to make informed decisions about travel routes and whether there was a need for additional security measures for embassy staff. We provided decision-makers with route assessments utilizing historic data on violent events along travel routes. This holistic view of security risks allowed them to take adequate precautions for delegations’ travel (for example by adjusting a planned route to one with fewer recorded incidents, choosing a better day of the week to travel, and ensuring that correct security protocols were followed) in order to mitigate risk. 

Other RFIs and security assessments have assisted the client in avoiding an unnecessary decision to minimize movement or evacuate staff, by addressing circulating misinformation. We have answered more than 15 RFIs in the past year, making sure that our client is well-informed and able to make proportionate and sensible decisions about their staffing, risks, and operations. The client says: I look forward to continuing a collaborative working relationship with the Intelyse Team, as they have always been crucial in supporting our security operations across Nigeria.” 

Peace of mind in uncertain operating environments 

When working and operating in volatile countries, businesses need to be able to rely on their risk analysis provider to keep them up-to-speed with developing situations. Its also crucial that the information and reports they are given are based on sound, expert analysis – to cut through gossip, panic, and hearsay. This is where our experts can offer reassurance, as well as advice when difficult decisions need to be made.  

Our clients can email, WhatsApp message, or phone analysts to ask specific questions, usually related to planned travel or evolving security risks. Our analysts provide heat maps, graphs of historic incident data (including, for example, which days of the week carry the highest risk), information on key threats and actors, and any other clarifications or analysis required to make sound decisions.  

For more information on how Intelyse can help companies to make timely business-critical decisions, please contact us. 

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