The massive publicity given to the teenage boy who flew in the wheel well of a local flight in Nigeria last August may have unwittingly encouraged other young boys to try out the risky venture, after three teenage boys were arrested by the police at the country’s main gateway Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.
On Monday, the police paraded the three boys – Lateef Popoola (13); Amadi Joshua (14) and Ukpabio Onyedikachi (14) – whom they said were attempting to illegally board some international flights.
The police then handed over the boys, who were arrested at different times, to their parents, with an admonition that they should be rehabilitated.
“These boys were found at different times at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. Their aim was to get into any plane and travel out of Nigeria.
“I decided to hand them over to their parents so they will be well taken care of and stop dwelling on the fantasy that you can just come into the airport, enter a plane and travel,” the local Punch newspaper Tuesday quoted the Commissioner of Police for the Airport Command, Mr. Salahu Waheed, as saying.
The boys were quoted as saying that while they indeed have plans to travel out of Nigeria, they had not yet decided on when to embark on the trip, and that they had merely sneaked into the airport to watch planes take off and land.
On 24 Aug., another teenage boy, Daniel Ohikhena, was arrested after he flew in the wheel well of an Arik Air flight from Benin, capital of southern Edo State, to the economic capital city of Lagos.
He was subsequently released to his state government which promised to sponsor his education, while a group also offered him scholarship up to the university level.
The action prompted Nigeria’s National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) to warn against any attempt to make a hero out of the boy.
”We fear that such public gesture, even in the name of charity, will only encourage other kids, and even adults, to embark on similar misadventure,” it said.