The family of Tolulope Arotile, the late first Nigerian female combat pilot, and the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, on Thursday rejected the accident theory of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) as the cause of the death, calling for a probe.
The late combat pilot died on Tuesday at the age of 24 after a car that was reversing hit her.
Tolulope’s elder sister, Damilola Adegboye, told journalists on Thursday that the family was devastated by her untimely death and had been wondering how a car that was reversing could kill her.
“We are not convinced that Tolu can 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 the truth,” she added.
She said the day the late combat pilot died, she was in the room where she was sleeping.
Adegboye said, “A call came into her mobile phone; from the way she spoke, I knew that the caller must be a senior officer telling her to come to the air force base. She was reluctant and I offered to drop her off.
“One hour later, I saw it online that something serious had happened to her. I couldn’t believe that somebody I just dropped off is dead.”
Also speaking, Tolulope’s mother described her as a special child who liked to fast and pray.
Also, Afenifere on Thursday demanded a coroner inquest into Tolulope’s death.
The National Publicity Secretary (NPS) of the organisation, 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.”
He 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.”
Meanwhile, the Kogi State House of Assembly has called on the state government to immortalise her.
The call was contained in an oral motion by the member representing Ijumu Constituency, Kilani Olumo, at plenary on Thursday.
The Speaker, Matthew Kolawole, called on the state government to urgently immortalise the “young icon.”
Northern govs mourn Arotile
The Northern Governors Forum (NGF) on Thursday expressed shock over the death.
The Chairman of the forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, in a statement by his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Macham Makut, described the late Arotile as a promising officer.
Lalong said, “The testimony of the officer’s bravery in the field of combat, especially towards stopping bandits and terrorists from inflicting more harm on Nigerians, will remain indelible in the history of the Nigerian Air Force, as well as in the minds of Nigerians.”
In the same vein, the Chairman of the North Central Governors Forum and Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Bello, described her as a person worthy of emulation.
Bello in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mary Berje, said, “Her disciplined and courageous contributions as well as exploits in the Operation Gama Aiki bombardment of bandits as a squadron pilot in Niger State where a lot of successes were recorded, will not be forgotten in a hurry.”