Calls for thorough investigation, coroner’s inquest
Condole family, NAF
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, under the auspices of Joint National Action Civil Society Coalition, JNACSC, Friday, mourned the death of Flying Officer of the Nigerian Air Force, Tolulope Arotile, Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot.
This was contained in a statement signed by leaders of 10 CSOs on behalf of JNACSC, which include Global Rights; SBM Intelligence; Centre for Excellence, Zamfara; International Peace and Civic Responsibility Centre; Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development; Socio-Economic Research and Development Centre; House of Justice; Molluma Medico-Legal Centre; OnlineHubNG; and Neighborhood Environment Watch Foundation, Ebonyi.
The group also called for a thorough investigation into the causes of Arotile’s death, including commissioning a coroner’s inquest.
It will be recalled that the Nigerian Air Force released a statement that Flying Officer Arotile died on July 14, 2020, at the age of 24, when she was inadvertently hit by the reversing vehicle of an excited former classmate at the Air Force Secondary School while trying to greet her.
Also, reports have it that the unnamed ex-classmate has been detained following the death of the combat helicopter pilot.
The statement reads in part, “The Joint National Action Civil Society Coalition mourns the unfortunate death of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot, who, according to the official statement released by the Air Force, died after a road accident in Kaduna State.
“Given the strategic importance of her position to national security, and the various versions of how her death occurred that have emerged in the public domain, we call on the Federal Government, the Nigerian Armed Forces, and the Nigerian Police, to undertake a thorough investigation, including commissioning a coroner’s inquest into her death.
“From all reports, the late Flying Officer Arotile had been immensely instrumental in Nigeria’s fight against insecurity, particularly in the Northwest and North Central regions, where she was a squadron pilot.
“It has also been reported that the unfortunate accident which led to her death occurred upon her return from an anti-banditry combat operation in the troubled areas of Katsina State.
“Considering her crucial role in the fight against insecurity in Nigeria, it must be taken into consideration that the Flying Officer may have been a target of criminal elements for reasons best known to them.
“It must also be recalled that since Nigeria launched its war on terrorism, law enforcement officers have inadvertently become the counter-strike targets of organised criminal groups.
“Whilst reports from the Nigerian Armed Forces have alleged that the circumstances surrounding her death were purely accidental, it is important for all doubts to be cleared through an exhaustive inquest as to the cause of her death.”
The statement also acknowledged sacrifices of the Nigerian military men and women who have fought gallantly against elements of insecurity across the country and consoled the family of the late Flying Officer and the Nigeria Air Force over the sad and painful death of the promising Officer.
“The Joint National Action Civil Society Coalition respects and acknowledges the sacrifices of the Nigerian military and officers of law enforcement agencies who battle at the frontline against insecurity in our country, and urges the Government of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Armed Forces to ensure the security and welfare of all its security assets”, it added.