Nigeria’s army rescues woman abducted a decade ago as a schoolgirl, and her 3 children

Brown sculptures of heads on pedestals in rows
Sculptures created by French artist Prune Nourry, inspired by ancient Nigerian Ife terracotta heads, titled “Statues Also Breathe,” and representing the remaining 108 Chibok still in captivity are displayed in Lagos, Nigeria, in December 2022.
(Sunday Alamba / Associated Press)

Nigerian soldiers rescued a woman who was abducted by extremists a decade ago while she was a schoolgirl in the village of Chibok, the army said Thursday. Her three children were also rescued.

Lydia Simon, who is five months pregnant, was rescued by Nigerian troops in the Gwoza council area of Borno state, where the 15-year insurgency by Islamic extremists is concentrated, according to a statement from the army. Her age wasn’t immediately released by authorities, but she is most likely in her 20s.

The statement was accompanied by a picture of Simon and her children, who appear to be between the ages of 2 and 4. She has yet to be reunited with her family.


Simon was among 276 girls seized from their school in Chibok in April 2014 at the height of the extremist violence in the region. About 82 of them are still in captivity.

The first of a series of mass school kidnappings in the West African nation, the Chibok abduction shocked the world and triggered a global social media campaign tagged #BringBackOurGirls.

The schoolchildren have been released more than two weeks after they were seized in the northwestern state of Kaduna and taken into a forest.

March 24, 2024

The Nigerian army didn’t say how she was freed other than that she was rescued in a hot spot known as Ngoshe, 74 miles north of the Borno state capital of Maiduguri.

Some Chibok parents and security analysts have said there is little evidence to show there is a special military operation to free the women. Those who returned in recent years were mostly found abandoned in the forests.

Some of the recently freed women were either raped by the insurgents or forced into marriages, according to Chioma Agwuegbo, an activist who was part of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

“We have heard their stories about the amount of trauma and violence they have faced. Somebody who was kidnapped 10 years ago is not returning as the same person,” Agwuegbo said.


Villagers in Chibok joined Simon’s family as they waited for when they would be allowed to see her.

“The government has not told us anything [and] we are waiting for an official call,” said Yakubu Nkeki, chairman of the Chibok girls’ parents’ association.

Asadu writes for the Associated Press.