- Family, Yoruba groups reject accident theory, demand probe
- Immortalise late pilot, Kogi Assembly tells Gov Bello
- Northern govs mourn Arotile, extol her virtues
A pan-Yoruba group, Apapo O’odua Koya, has demanded an international independent probe of Tuesday’s sudden and tragic death of Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot, Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile.
Similarly, Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere and the World Yoruba Congress urged the Federal Government to properly investigate Arotile’s gruesome murder, saying her death was suspicious.
This is just as the family of the late Arotile demanded a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the sudden and tragic death of the 24-year-old officer.
Arotile’s elder sister, Damilola Adegboye, said that the Flying Officer’s death had devastated the family, wondering how the reverse of a vehicle could kill a person in such manner.
AOKOYA alleged that the 24-year-old combat helicopter pilot might have been murdered by agents of Northern insurgents and bandits in the Nigerian military.
At the time of her death, she was one of the youngest fighter pilots in the world.
The group in a statement, therefore, asked the international community to investigate her tragic death, saying the least it expected was an independent inquiry.
“We have very strong reasons to assume that Tolulope Arotile was murdered. We are aware she had altercations with top military commanders before her death and some hated her to a hilt for her brilliance and exploit against Boko Haram and bandits,” AOKOYA said in the statement signed by its officials, Captain Abigo Oritsebugbemi (rtd) and its Middle Belt Coordinator, Akeem Meduna.
AOKOYA said the theory that Arotile died in a motor accident inside the AirForce Base was a cock and bull story “and it is doubtful.”
It added, “We want full investigation into this suspicious death. We find it difficult to believe the story based on the information at our disposal.
“How could she have died in a traffic accident right inside the AirForce Base in Kaduna? We have made preliminary findings and all officers who spoke to us could not understand how that could have happened. One officer, her colleague in Kaduna, specifically said the case of murder was the strongest motive.”
“There must be an independent enquiry for anyone to be convinced Tolulope Arotile was not murdered. The Fulani hegemony hated bright officers of Southern origin. Tolu was exceptional and her brilliance was a threat to the establishment.”
AOKOYA said it had been reliably informed about how Arotile led major onslaughts against bandits and Islamic fundamentalists, adding that her sorties led to death of several militants and bandits.
“We have been informed that their agents and supporters in the military marked her and only succeeded in setting a trap for her”, AOKOYA said, adding that her last operation was in the North Central states tagged, “Operation GAMA AIKI” in Minna, Niger State, where, despite the rockets fired at her helicopter, she succeeded in killing many bandits and fundamentalist.
“The Nigerian authorities are shedding crocodile tears on the murder of Arotile. We promise his murderers that the several cases of murder of Yoruba officers in the Army, Navy or AirForce are being compiled and at the right time, when Yoruba Nation emerges, the murderers will face the full weight of the law, even if it means abducting them – the exact thing Israel did after the Second World War – to those who killed them in concentration camps.
The group recalled that a Yoruba Chief of AirForce, Shittu Alao, was murdered in 1969 by the Fulani oligarchy, adding that Dr Ademola Adetokunbo, who carried out the autopsy on Shittu was also murdered by the Federal authorities controlled by the Fulani.
AOKOYA added that the Commandant of Nigerian Naval School, Mrs J.O Ogundana, “was murdered few months ago and her body was mutilated and packed in a Ghana-Must-Go bag. In the same manner, Dr Yomi Oniororo, a 29 year old officer of the Nigerian Intelligence Agency, (NIA) was murdered in Abuja, 2002. His body was mutilated. Dare, a senior police officer investigating the murder of Dele Giwa, was also assassinated. His senior brother is the popular journalist, Prof Olatunji Dare.
“We are taking records. At the last count, some 413 Yoruba junior and senior Yoruba officers have been murdered by the Fulani oligarchy. Many of them were killed in a ‘neat job’ that looked like an accident.”
In the same vein, the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, on Thursday demanded a coroner inquest into Arotile’s death.
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, in a statement titled, ‘Afenifere wants coroner inquest into Tolulope Arotile’s death,’ said, with the death of the flying officer, “Nigeria, the demented chicken sucked one of its finest eggs yet again.”
Odumakin said, “It was only eyewitness accounts that unofficially released that it was a colleague of hers who reversed his car to knock her down on the road.
“Unofficial accounts say she just returned from a combat operation before she was knocked down to death. We therefore do not accept that her death was an accident until the report of a coroner says how she died and how a supposed attempt to stop and greet could come with a death impact.
“We say this against what is known of the infiltration of the forces by sympathisers and agents of Boko Haram. We recall the report years back of such agents revealing the routes and timing of movements of our troops to Boko Haram who ambushed them.”
Aare Adams, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Aderemi, said, “Nigeria has lost one of its best brains in the military in such suspicious circumstances. The late Tolulope Arotile’s short span in life was remarkable with a track record of being the first female combat helicopter pilot. The best we can do as a nation is to get to the root of the circumstances culminating in her death.
“As far as I am concerned, reports of her death remained suspicious to me because her death has raised many questions.
“How would such a promising, young girl be killed by a reversing car within the premises of the barrack? Who drove the car? What was his or her name? Where was the suspected killer at the moment? And what is the present situation? We will like to know, and that is why I am charging the International Community to investigate and look into the circumstances surrounding her death.
On its part, the Yoruba World Congress called for a thorough and transparent investigation of the accident.
In a statement by its President, Prof. Banji Akintoye, YWC said, “This loss is irreparable and the grief unbearable.
“The YWC calls for a thorough and transparent investigation of the accident.”
Also, Arotile’s elder sister, Damilola Adegboye, said that the Flying Officer’s death had devastated the family, wondering how the reverse of a vehicle could kill a person in such manner.
The young AirForce officer died as a result of head injuries sustained from a road traffic accident inside NAF Base in Kaduna State.
According to Adegboye, “We in the family are not convinced that Tolu can just die like that in a freak accident. I know that the military is well trained in the art of investigation, we want them to carry out a thorough investigation that can convince us beyond all doubts that the incident that led to her death was real.”
Damilola stated that before the tragic incident on Tuesday, the young AirForce officer and herself were together in the room where she was sleeping, when she got a call summoning her to the NAF Base, where she met her untimely death a few hours after.
She alleged, “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 read online that something serious had happened to her. I couldn’t believe that somebody I just dropped off is dead.”
Meanwhile, the Kogi State House of Assembly has called on the state government to immortalise her.
The call was contained in a motion moved by the member representing Ijumu Constituency, Kilani Olumo, at plenary on Thursday.
Olumo said the deceased pilot had contributed her quota to the ongoing fight against insecurity in the country.
He noted that her death is painful and a great loss to the state, pointing out that immortalising her is a reward for her hard work and dedication to the protection of the nation’s territorial integrity.
Seconding the motion, the member representing Lokoja One Constituency, Umar Tenimu described the motion as timely in view of the efforts of the late combat pilot to the nation’s security efforts.
The Speaker, Matthew Kolawole, in his ruling, called on the state government to urgently immortalise the young icon.
A minute silence was observed in honour of the late first female combatant helicopter pilot.
Arotile died mysteriously as a result of alleged head injuries sustained, according to Nigerian AirForce, in a road accident inside the Nigerian Air Force Base in Kaduna.
Last year, she completed her training in South Africa and was winged as a combat helicopter pilot.
Arotile hailed from Iffe in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State.