Arotile: How Nigeria lost one of her shining stars

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On July 14, Nigeria lost one of the trailblazers in the military to the cold hands of death in the most unfortunate manner. Tolulope Arotile was knocked down by a vehicle driven by her secondary school mate who intended to reverse and exchange pleasantries with the late officer but unfortunately knocked her down and ran over her body. She was confirmed dead at the 461 NAF Hospital, Kaduna due to injuries sustained when she hit her head on the pavement as a result of the significant force of the car.

Arotile, a Flying Officer and a Squadron Pilot at the 405 Helicopter Combat Training Group, Enugu, was before her death attached to the Air Component of Operation GAMA AIKI in Minna, having recently completed her Promotion Examinations, was in Kaduna awaiting deployment for her next assignment.

The Nigeria Air Force said she would be buried with full military honour in Abuja next Thursday.

Arotile who was commissioned as an officer of the NAF in 2017 was eight months ago commissioned as the first female combat helicopter pilot in a male-dominated industry.

NAF in its effort to dispel the misinformation released a preliminary report on the circumstances that surrounded the death of the gallant officer.

The spokesperson of the force, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said the Nigerian Air Force instituted an investigation to formally determine the circumstances of the incident.

He explained that Nehemiah Adejoh, Igbekele Folorunsho and Festus Gbayegun, all her former secondary schoolmates, drove past her at the NAF Base, Kaduna, “Upon recognising their schoolmate, Arotile, after passing her, Mr Adejoh, who was driving, reversed the vehicle, ostensibly in an attempt to quickly meet up with the Deceased, who was walking in the opposite direction.

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“In the process, the vehicle struck Flying Officer Arotile from the rear, knocking her down with significant force and causing her to hit her head on the pavement. The vehicle then ran over parts of her body as it veered off the road beyond the kerb and onto the pavement, causing her further injuries.”

He explained further that the late Arotile was rushed to the 461 NAF Hospital Kaduna for treatment, while “Mr Folorunsho (one of the occupants of the vehicle) who is also an Accident & Emergency Nurse at the St Gerard Catholic Hospital Kaduna, administered First Aid”, he said.

Daramola said the three occupants of the vehicle were subjected to Toxicology Tests at the 461 NAF Hospital but no traces of alcohol or psychotropic substances were found in their systems but was discovered that Adejo, who drove the vehicle did not have a valid driver’s license.

“Traffic Officers from the Kawo Police Station and the Kaduna State Police Command, as well as Road Traffic experts from the Federal Road Safety Corps, were also called in to provide support during the investigation.

Tolulope Arotile
Tolulope Arotile

“Being a civil case, the matter will be handed over to the Nigeria Police with a view to further investigating and charging the suspects to court in accordance with extant laws”, he revealed.

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The death of Arotile is indeed a deep lose not only the family who continues to mourn the sudden lose but to the entire nation. Meanwhile her death and the circumstances that surrounded her death call for strict enforcement of the law guiding driving in the country.

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