Having previously covered the 2014 kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls, AP Lagos colleagues, video journalist Lekan Oyekanmi and photographer Sunday Alamba, were well aware of the challenges they would face working in remote Zamfara state when hundreds of girls were kidnapped from a boarding school in northwest Nigeria on Feb. 26. Ant when the girls were released the March 2, the resourceful pair overcame all obstacles to deliver outstanding coverage, particularly live video.
After making their way to Gusaure, the state capital, Oyekanmi and Alamba had carefully reviewed the security situation on the ground, talking to local journalists and officials, as well as with AP editors, before setting off for the school to report on the missing girls. Returning to the capital after a day on the road, they worked well past midnight filing their work on balky internet.
Then, with little more than two hours sleep, Oyekanmi received a tip from a local friend that the girls had been released. They roused their driver and raced to the Government House, powering up their live video gear as they drove. They talked their way past security and were broadcasting live exclusively at 5:50 a.m. local time as the schoolgirls were brought back safely for medical check-ups and reunion with their families. Their work dominated AP customer video usage around the world on the day, and Alamba’s photo coverage was no less impressive.