On Saturday, 26 March 2022, at 1200 hours “armed bandits” according to open sources attacked the Kaduna International Airport in the Ifira community of Igabi Local Government Area. The breach of the airport security was corroborated by Punch newspaper, according to the paper, bandits claimed that “military personnel took away their cattle.” A Nigerian Airspace Management Agency security official was murdered while protecting a VHF Omni Directional Range equipment that was also destroyed as a result of the attack.
The attack stems from conflict over seized cattle belonging to herders. The cattle had reportedly ravaged farmland in the area. The situation was escalated to the Nigerian military camp at the airport, which resulted in the seizure of herd. The herders, who were dissatisfied with this development, petitioned the Emir of Ifira to persuade the military to keep one cow and vigilantes another, while the remainder of the herd was released because they had incurred a significant loss as a result of the seizure.
On 27 March 2022, a day after the attack on a Kaduna Airport, a video went viral depicting an attack by bandits on motorcycles driving on the tarmac of Kaduna International Airport.
This information is False.
The video originates from 4 August 2018, posted by a Twitter user @_diaryofapilot at 0408 pm. According to the user “Happening in Sokoto Right now…” as said, the video showed men on motorbikes driving past a plane taxiing, one of the riders stops and wave at the plane at 0:15 – 0:16 seconds.
With this unfortunate and embarrassing development, the questions that demand to be answered are, who should be held accountable for this attack, where was our intelligence apparatus to anticipate such moves, why was the airport security so porous in such an active threat environment, and what risk mitigation strategies were originally in place to deter such an occurrence?
We recall that as of Saturday, 26 March 2022, it has been 7 months and 214 days since bandits-terrorists assaulted the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) on 24 August 2021, 15 kilometres from the airport.
Tanwa Ashiru in a featured article while accessing the vulnerabilities which led to the NDA attack in August 2021 and offering solutions opined that “Crime Prevention through environmental design” which refers to measures in place to discourage crime was needed in deterring such incursions, she adds that “Territorial Reinforcement which involves the use of boundary markers to show clear lines between the general public and the organization’s grounds,…” which is done with the use of “…fences, hedges, signages or a combination.” These measures are aimed at halting activities that may prompt breaches in the first place, such as compromise of fences to allow for cattle movement or short-cuts for local commuters around airport environments. Tanwa also spoke on having “functional closed-circuit television surveillance cameras, perimeter sensors that alert on perimeter breaches.” However, in highlighting human error, she says “There is no point of having CCTV cameras or guards if no one is keeping watch.”
But asides from being proactive, it’s worthy to note that lapses could happen even with a robust proactive security measure in place, hence it is paramount that the same energy put into preventing be put into effectively reacting.
First and foremost is understanding what type of risk exists, which helps in determining the level of threat such risk poses to infrastructure, in this case, the Kaduna International airport. Also, understanding what type of risk exists, helps in the development of effective contingencies in ensuring business continuity even in such an active threat environment.
Given the level of insecurity in Kaduna, being the second most impacted State in the Northwest in regards to armed conflict according to a 2022 assessment, the high rate of successfully attacks carried out on targets mostly civilians within this year in Igabi is summed up to 14 accounting for 55 fatalities. Afaka recorded 36% of these occurrences. This however highlights a clear cut vulnerability to the airport environment.
Based on the data presented above, we can conclude that a comprehensive security risk assessment would have played an important role in strengthening the existing airport security architecture by assisting security managers in applying appropriate measures towards achieving a systematic and comprehensive approach to managing risk. While regular operating procedures and regulation exist to cope with unpleasant developments like this and maybe fairly efficient in some contexts, stepping beyond the baseline with regular threat assessments on current threat trends and patterns to understand and identify how exposed airport assets are to insecurity developments, as well as affording adequate risk management know-how/mitigations will allow for the discovery of out-of-the-box mitigations in dealing with existing and emerging issues, as a high-phased sector like this one must be flexible and adaptable.
Nigeria has a history of having porous airports, from a teenager sneaking into the tyre compartment of an Arik Airline at the Lagos Airport on 25 August 2013, to an Air Peace Flight being robbed while taxiing at the Lagos Airport on 8 February 2018, to the aforementioned incident at Sokoto Airport, not leaving out a previous attack on Kaduna Airport staff quarters on 6 March 2022, as well as instances of drug smuggling underlines the constantly ever changing security threats in aviation sector, security measures must aim to be flexible and proactive, as well as adaptive and effectively reactive to provide strong and efficient risk mitigation.