Best of AP — Second Winner


AP leads on abduction of hundreds of children in Nigeria, securing first confirmation

A women prays for the kidnapped LEA Primary and Secondary School students in Kuriga, Kaduna state Nigeria, Saturday, March 9, 2024. AP PHOTO / SUNDAY ALAMBA


In one of the largest school kidnappings since the 2014 abduction the Chibok girls in Borno state, gunmen terrorizing northwestern Nigerian communities stormed a school in Kaduna state and seized nearly 300 children as they were about to begin the day’s learning, marching them into nearby forests before security forces could reach the town.

Local media in Nigeria began reporting the incident on Thursday, all using “locals say” vague attribution to locate and explain the incident, with details varying.

Certain that something serious had happened, correspondent Chinedu Asadu quickly set out to confirm the news to AP standards. The school is in an area with almost no mobile phone network access. Asadu’s effort paid off when he finally reached the chairman of the local government to confirm the incident, the location and get the first on-the-record estimate of how many children were abducted, hours before the school revealed the details to the state government.

As Asadu worked on the reporting, photographer Sunday Alamba reached out to local journalists who had worked with AP in the past who might be able to provide visuals and reporting from the dangerous area overrun by the bandits. A stringer was able to join the armed convoy of the state governor who visited the village in the late afternoon, and in the short time available took the first photos and videos from the scene, along with soundbites from officials. AP’s first video and photos moved many hours ahead of key competitors.

The next day, Alamba rushed to Kaduna city to assess the possibility of follow-up ground reporting on the situation, and while Asadu kept reporting the spot from Abuja, the entire Nigeria team pulled together as one with climate reporter Adebayo and investigative reporter Grace Ekpu working on an explainer, timeline and further video elements.

Following Alamba’s assessment that it was safe to visit the school on Saturday, the AP became the first Western news agency to reach Kuriga. Joined by Asadu, the two journalists combined for strong all-formats follow-up coverage and were the first journalists to profile eyewitnesses and shocked parents.

AP’s reporting across text, photos and videos were widely used by clients being one of the first reports from journalists on the ground in the affected area. Video alone racked up 1,000 uses by broadcast customers. It was also one of AP’s leading stories on the website during the period of publication, drawing global attention to a big story about the children from a remote and often-overlooked part of the world.

For securing multiple firsts and working outside their native formats to deliver strong all-formats coverage, Asadu, Alamba, Adebayo and Ekpu are this week’s Best of AP — Second Winner.

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