By Simon Ebegbulem, Benin-City
The future of the stowaway teenage boy, Daniel Oikhena, became brighter, on Wednesday, after Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State met with him and his parents. Daniel stowed away in an Arik aircraft from Benin-Lagos penultimate Saturday, apprehended by officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in Lagos and handed over to officials of the Department of State Security (DSS).
Ever since then, Daniel has been in the custody of the DSS officials in Lagos but arrived, on Monday, Benin City where the DSS handed him over to the Ministry of Women Affairs. But the mother of the boy, Mrs Evelyn Oikhena,was not comfortable with the handling of the matter, particularly when she visited the office of the DSS in Benin City, but could not find her son. She was asked to go to the Ministry of Women Affairs, yet she was not allowed access to her son. But prior to the arrival of Daniel to Benin, some Nigerians expressed concern over the continued detention of the boy by the DSS, arguing that keeping him in such an atmosphere will not augur well for his future. A former Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Rowland Owie and De RAUFs, a volunteer group, immediate called for his release.
Owie said: “I wish to advise the DSS to release Daniel because keeping him in custody at this age will not help us as nation or even the DSS. In a civilized society, what I think should have been done is to find out what actually prompted the boy’s action and then, once it is ascertained that he meant no harm, you look for how to help the poor boy.
Though what he did was unlawful, you should also know that keeping him in custody at this age will have some negative psychological effect on the boy. We humans see things with our naked eyes. Most of us are blind to the spiritual. Let any of the DSS operatives enter the plane wing that Daniel entered and come out alive.
Thereafter, they can detain the boy as long as they like. The boy survived that ordeal because he was covered with the mantle of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He should be allowed to go home without further delay while they see how to help the boy in his career. If not discouraged, the boy can become the President of Nigeria tomorrow and with the encouragement given to him he can take this nation to another level. So he should be released without further delay”. De Raufs, a volunteer group from Osun State, which announced a scholarship for Daniel, lined up legal experts to secure the boy’s freedom. Yinka Muyiwa, head of the group’s legal team, said it came to Edo State to reaffirm the scholarship it gave the lad to continue his education up to the university level.
“The boy did not commit any offence and as such should not be detained any longer. The boy had to do what he did because the system failed him. There was no crime involved in what he did as far as we are concerned”. So it some kind of relief when the news came that the boy had been released from the custody of the DSS on Monday.
Daniel met with Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State immediately on arrival in Benin-City behind closed-door during which Sunday Vanguard learnt that the governor interviewed him to know what he was thinking when he entered the aircraft. It was learnt that the state government expressed its readiness to ensure that the stowaway teenager achieved his dreams by sponsoring him up to his university level. It was gathered that the boy exhibited the zeal to further his education and be useful to the society, which, according to a source, impressed Oshiomhole.
The Edo Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Louise Odion, in a statement, disclosed that Oshiomhole was determined that Daniel gets the best education, just as he regretted that the seeming crack between the mother and the father affected the upbringing of the boy. According to him, “Edo government is already taking steps to ensure that Daniel gets not just material but also psychological support to enable him achieve his God-given potentials. As a doting parent himself, Governor Adams Oshiomhole has followed the development closely.
As a matter of fact, he personally engaged Daniel. From his interaction with him and his parents who, unfortunately, are separated, it is obvious that there is a deficit in terms of parental care, even though he sounds quite intelligent.
We will ensure that Daniel benefits, first of all, from the intervention of clinical psychologists. His psyche needs to be weaned off destructive anger. Thereafter, Edo State government is ready to assist Daniel to get to university level consistent with the philosophy of Comrade Oshiomhole that every Edo child gets quality education that not only addressed the cognitive, but also the affective and psycho-motor domains as well”.
A source at the Ministry of Women Affairs, where the boy was being kept at press time told Sunday Vanguard that “it will not be nice to just send the boy to the family even though we are not detaining him”. The source continued: “What the state government wants to do is to ensure that the boy returns to his normal self after the trauma he went though while he was in the plane and the custody of the DSS. We are going to get a psychologist, private teachers to teach him on different issues.
The state government wants Daniel to live a better life and to help him achieve his dreams. We discovered that the boy is intelligent; so all the government can do now is to ensure that he exploits his potentials positively. Who knows he can become a pilot, a governor or President tomorrow. The Ministry is doing this because a lot of talents have been destroyed in this country because there is nobody to motivate them and render assistance. We don’t want Daniel to be a criminal, we want him to be a better person for our people in Edo State and Nigeria as a whole”.
Last week, the mother of the boy, Evelyn, had been quoted as saying the reason Daniel engaged in the stowaway incident was because he wanted to go to America. As the search was on the movement, the family noticed he was missing, the mother said they were told by the boy’s junior brother that they should look for him at the airport as he earlier disclosed he would enter the plane to travel to America.