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Published: October 14, 2015

Being able to totally depend on your security team is vital, and knowing they are prepared and able to go above and beyond the contract brief can not only add value, but prove life saving in an emergency.

A partner you can rely on no matter what is few and far between, but Pilgrims clients’ safety and security always comes first, and that often means staff going the extra mile, showing true grit and determination to help in whatever way they can.

This was demonstrated recently and two dangerous situations narrowly avoided, when Pilgrims staff in Nigeria went above and beyond their remit to help a major multinational client in the energy sector.


Pilgrims supports the client in Nigeria providing services such as Journey Management, Consultancy Services and Technical Support on request.

In the first incident, a fire broke out in the company’s offices in Lagos. Regional Operations Manager for Pilgrims Africa, Gordy Gordon, explains: “We received a call from our operations officer to say that a building was on fire. We aren’t fire fighters, but we knew we could offer support in other ways. We immediately mobilised an armed escort team to the office and arranged for key staff to assist. Smoke from the building could be seen some way off, the road that passes the office was filled with workers, employees and onlookers and on getting closer it became evident that the fuelling of the fire came from a diesel fuel tanker.”

On arrival the team could see the situation was serious. “The crowd was too close to the danger and the entrance to the building needed to be adequately secured,” says Gordon. “Pilgrims staff made contact with the client’s Regional Security Manager who was inside the building and helped him to clear all floors inside their wing, making sure no one was left inside. With assistance from MOPOL (Nigerian Mobile Police Force) and the client’s personnel, we assisted pedestrians and drivers who wanted to enter the premises in order to evacuate vehicles. Two looters tried to enter via the side fence but were quickly stopped.”

As the fire appeared under control, the two local fire trucks at the scene ran out of water and had to withdraw to refill. The fire erupted again and there was a fear that the tanker might explode, so the Pilgrims team contacted nearby energy company Chevron to see if they could assist. Meanwhile Pilgrims, MOPOL and fire fighters kept onlookers back, including children from a nearby primary school.

Within half an hour the two Lagos State fire trucks returned followed by the Chevron Fire crew. With the fire under control, Pilgrims staff stayed to assist personnel and continue providing security. A Pilgrims Armed Escort Vehicle was stationed with MOPOL during the evening and another team was provided the following morning.

Gordon comments: “Everyone involved – the client’s personnel, fire-fighters and our staff – remained calm and professional and did their upmost in order to bring a dangerous situation under control. It was an unusual incident for us to get involved with, but at the end of the day our client’s safety and security were compromised and we were glad to be able to help.”

The cause of the blaze is not known and being investigated. Pilgrims is working with the client to identify key learning and recommendations following the incident.

Pilgrims Rescues Stranded Student

Pilgrims always aims to care for its clients in every way possible. When the team in Nigeria were told the student daughter of a client’s staff member was worried about a young woman stranded at a Nigerian airport, they stepped in.
The staff member’s daughter was a student at New York University’s (NYU) Abu Dhabi campus, and volunteered in the admissions department. A would-be candidate from Nigeria, who was on route to the campus had a problem with her visa and, late in the day, had become stranded in Port Harcourt airport. She was at risk of having no place to stay overnight when the airport closed.
The client’s wife contacted a member of the Pilgrims team and asked for urgent assistance. Within an hour a commander was dispatched to rescue the girl. He found her and checked her safely into a hotel.
The client whose wife made the call said: “For the NYU team in Abu Dhabi, the rescue was nothing less than heroic.  They were bordering on panic over the young candidate’s safety. I wish to express my sincere gratitude. When we called for help, they didn’t ask a bunch of daft questions or throw up obstacles.  They simply did what we have come to rely on Pilgrims to do: make sure the client was safe.”