Sixteen days after his arrest and detention, Ricky Daniel Oikhena, the stowaway teenager who hid in the wheel compartment of an Arik Air flight from Benin to Lagos is tired of staying in custody. He desperately wants to be reunited with members of his family, the same people he wanted to escape from.
Daniel told his unsolicited hosts, the State Security Service (SSS), when he was asked yesterday that he wants to go home and continue his education.
Daniel, since he was brought back from Lagos two weeks ago, has been detained in a building at the Government House, Benin City, in the company of security personnel. He has become lonely and somewhat depressed.
The boy who answered questions in mono syllabics in the lonely facility told newsmen that he was happy with the award of scholarship granted to him by the Edo State Government.
Daniel also said he did not know that he took a risk when he hid in an airplane’s wheel compartment saying, “I will not do it again.”
“I regret it,” he said with a solemn and helpless expression, adding, “I want to go home. I am tired. I will be happy to train as an Engineer.”
Daniel who also said he was terrified when he was arrested on arrival in Lagos from Benin said he was not mistreated but had been given good food where he was kept.
According to him, “Even on the return trip to Benin and at this present place, I am treated well with good food, but since school has resumed, I want to go home.”
Asked if he was questioned in Lagos and since he was brought back to Benin, the teenager answered in the affirmative, adding that he returned to Benin by road with three armed security men.
Fortunately, in a move aimed at facilitating his engineering dream, the Edo State Government has secured admission in one of the state’s top secondary schools for 13-year-old Daniel.
The state governor, Adams Oshiomhole, made this disclosure during the visit of Mr. George Uriesi, Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and members of his management team at the Government House Wednesday.
The governor said: “Without meaning to encourage anyone else, we decided to support him by sending him to one of the top secondary schools in Edo State that is owned by the government.
“The reason for opting for a boarding school is that we think that they need to closely watch him which his parents could not do.
“He is an intelligent young man with uncommon challenges, but one that has a vision. We had him examined by people who should know and the result confirmed that he is normal.”
“This incident was probably the kind of trigger that we needed to improve the facilities at our airports. You are never going to have all the money you need to do all you have to do. You should start from somewhere,” he noted.
Oshiomhole added that the stowaway incident was a security issue that had exposed the fact that there are no runway security lights at the Benin Airport.
“It is a security issue because a plane can take off, is flying into Benin airspace, it has mechanical faults, but it cannot land.
“Politically, there could also be an emergency in Edo State and the president needs to visit and he cannot land at the airport at night. You cannot spend the kind of money you are spending on remodelling and the little one you have to do is to ice the cake and you have a complete project. You should take this as something more urgent,” he informed the FAAN delegation.
Earlier, Uriesi said they were in Benin City to assess the stowaway incident, which had forced FAAN to review and improve on its security arrangements.
He said: “We are responding to the incident of the stowaway of that young boy a few weeks ago which was a big surprise to all of us.
“We want to inform you that we have taken strenuous measures to ensure that a similar incident does not happen. It was a serious and miraculous event, because prior to that day, I would have told you it was a suicidal mission.
“We are trying to create awareness that this is suicidal and young people should not attempt it at all. The likelihood of survival is slim.”
To check the recurrence of stowaways, Uriesi said FAAN planned to acquire security vehicles for the take-off and arrival of planes and that security teams made up of the Nigerian Air Force and airport security would now patrol the airports.
“We have a plan to fence the airport and it is an onerous task. The smallest airport perimeter fence in the country is 14 kilometres and the biggest one is about 33 kilometres. Altogether, it is about 500 kilometres. It is a huge capital outlay. But we need to secure the airports.
“We also wish to enlighten youths that they should not try it. This boy is a miracle,” he said.