Following the complaint by the family of late NAF Helicopter Combat Pilot, Flying Officer Tolulope Arotille, through her elder sister, Mrs Damilola Adegboye that the death of the combat pilot was suspicious and should be investigated, authorities of the Nigerian Air Force said Friday night that discreet investigations have commenced into circumstances surrounding her death.
Also, the pan Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, 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.
Vanguard gathered that towards this end, two persons are said to have been detained in Kaduna while Provost Officers are discreetly working to unearth the conversations she had on her phone on the day of the incident.
A source in Kaduna said the action of the NAF is to ensure there are no loopholes in the immediate and remote reasons that caused Tolulope’s death. Recall that Flying Officer, Tolulope Arotile was killed after a road accident involving a former school mate The NAF said 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.”
Mrs Adegboye had in an interview disclosed that the explanation given by the Nigerian Airforce that allegedly led to Flying Officer Arotile’s death was not convincing enough.
She had said, “We in the family are not convinced Tolu can just die like that in a freak accident. I know that the military is well trained in the art of investigations. We want them to carry out a thorough investigation that can convince us beyond all reasonable doubts that the incident that led to her death was real.
Mrs Adegboye hinged the family’s suspicion of the fact that Tolu and herself were in the room on the day of the incident, ” A call came into her phone which she picked but from the way they spoke, I knew the caller must be a senior officer calling her to come to Airforce Base. She felt reluctant and I offered to drop her off”.
“One hour later, I saw the story online that something serious has happened to her. I couldn’t believe that somebody I just dropped off was dead”. The Director of Public Relations and Information, NAF, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, noted that at the end of the investigation, “whatever information needs to go out will go out”.
“It is standard practice. So, we are investigating the circumstances leading to her death by a road traffic accident. It is an investigation. It may go beyond NAF.” Already, the NAF has said the late Flying Officer Arotile would be given a Military burial on Thursday, July 23, at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja, with full military honours.
Arotile, a member of the Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 64, hailed from Iffe in the Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State and contributed to the efforts to rid the North-Central states of bandits and other criminal elements by flying combat missions. She was a squadron leader in Operation Gama Aiki in Minna Niger State.
Also, the pan Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, 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. Speaking in an interview with SaturdayPUNCH on Friday, 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 haemorrhaging 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.”