The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has commenced investigations into late Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile’s death.
NAF added that two persons were being held but noted that at the end of the investigation, “whatever information needs to go out will go out.”
NAF spokesman Daramola, said, “First of all, in my first statement, I said she died from a road traffic accident. I further clarified the nature of the road traffic accident where one of her excited classmates who saw her reversed his car which led to him hitting her and knocking her down. This led to head injuries and a lot of hemorrhaging which ultimately resulted in her death.
“The two boys are in custody and the NAF will do a thorough investigation into the matter. It is a routine process – our own processes that are ongoing because it happened inside a NAF base. At the appropriate time, whatever information needs to go out will go out. But we cannot pre-empt that investigation process.
“Whatever needs to be known will be known; it is standard practice. So, we are investigating the circumstances leading to her death by a road traffic accident. It is an investigation because it may go beyond NAF.”
Military sources however hinted that the driver who knocked down Flying Officer, Tolulope Arotile, is a civilian who had no valid driving credentials.
The sources, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the civilian driver, accompanied by his friends, visited his relations at the Airforce base located in Mando area of Kaduna metropolis on that fateful day and decided to drop off the late Airforce Pilot whom he spotted on the road inside the base.
However, in the process of reversing the car, he knocked down the deceased, who died after sustaining head injuries, the sources claimed.
Both the driver and the other occupants of the car were said to have been taken into the custody of the Air police for questioning, where it was discovered that the driver of the car has no valid driver’s license.
However, the air force explanation was that the female officer sustained head injuries from the accident when she was “inadvertently hit by the reversing vehicle of an excited former Air Force secondary school classmate while trying to greet her.”
A Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, however, on Thursday raised suspicion over the death of the female officer, rejecting the road accident explanation and calling for a Coroner’s Inquest into her death.
Tolulope’s family also rejected the road accident explanation and called for a thorough investigation.
Tolulope was born on December 13, 1995, into the family of Mr. and Mrs. Akintunde Arotile, the native of Iffe area in Ijumu Local Council of Kogi State.
She attended Air Force Primary School, Kaduna from 2000 to 2005 and Air Force Secondary School, Kaduna from 2006 to 2011, before gaining admission into the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, as a member of 64 Regular Course on the 22nd September 2012.
She was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force as a Pilot Officer on September 16, 2017, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the Nigerian Defence Academy.
Arotile was selected to train at the Starlite International Training Academy, in South Africa, following her performance during her initial flying training course at 401 Flying Training School Kaduna. As of October 15, 2019, she had acquired 460 hours of flight within 14 months in helicopter.
The late officer was decorated as the first female fighter helicopter pilot the Nigerian Airforce has had in 55 years; the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. (Dame) Pauline Tallen and Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar performed the decoration in October 2019.
She contributed to the efforts to rid the North-Central states of bandits and other criminal elements by flying combat missions.
She was particularly a squadron leader in Operation Gama Aiki in Minna Niger State.