Nigeria is grieving now, due to this debilitating departure of a few of her glowing minds, Flight Officer Tolulope Arotile of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).  Her story is as inspirational as it's disheartening.  What happened?  How did it occur?  Many Nigerians did not understand her before last week once the news of her sudden death hit the airwaves.

"Every person has a right to life, and nobody will be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he's been found guilty in Nigeria." 

Nigeria is grieving now, on account of this debilitating departure of one of her bright minds, Flight Officer Tolulope Arotile of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).  Her story is as inspirational as it's disheartening.  What happened?  How did it occur?  Many Nigerians did not understand her before last week when the news of her sudden demise hit the airwaves.  

It came through a terse press release from NAF that initially said she died in an automobile accident.  This indicated that she had been driving a car and ran to a ditch or a stationary automobile.  Then Nigerians demanded additional information after some other revelations revealed that NAF was being economic with the truth.  

Subsequently, another bombshell came from NAF, this time the attribute had shifted to an excited secondary school mate that was reversing his car to greet her and in the process knocked down her!  What fiction?  Even James Hadley Chase will dash NAF some trophy for exceeding his own unusually wild imaginations.  Just like this.  

The first female combat helicopter pilot is gone. Tolulope Oluwatoyin Sarah Arotile, from the bits and pieces that one can gather, was created on December 13, 1995, in Kaduna.  She is from Ife at Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State.    She holds a commercial pilot license after undergoing strategic flying training in Italy and South Africa.  In October 2019, she had been nominated since the first female combat pilot in the 55 years history of NAF.  In her short stay, she contributed greatly to the destruction of bandits in the North Central States, by flying several combat missions under Operation GAMA AIKI at Minna, Niger State.  

She was reported as diligent, colourful, humble, God-fearing and dutiful.  That's the star that Nigeria has lost. Going through the media, I saw a picture of her in the air, in combat style, with her helicopter, with a puppy by her legs and holding on to a rope, in the atmosphere, in a rather bold commando style.  

What a courageous mind!  The snippet of the story from her blood sister who had been with her to a fateful day was that Tolulope received a phone call that summoned her.  She had just returned from a combat operation and was resting and should generally not be subject to new rigours or errands.   

The value placed on this bright life by NAF is quite demeaning indeed, to say that an excited old classmate ran her down', like in reference to some animal or worthless object.  

The media release from NAF came too softly, to bear.  By all accounts, that is a national tragedy that must have been accorded its best attention by the relevant authorities.  Maybe it might have been better for NAF to have concluded its investigations before talking to us because today we've got many questions begging for answers.

Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa
Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa

Who is this Adejoh friend or classmate that ran her down?  How old is he?  What's the exact scene of this debilitating event?  The NAF base in Kaduna has to be some well-built structure with great roads.  Thus, let us look at the scenario correctly.  Tolulope was trekking on a motorized paved street within the NAF base.  

This Adejoh friend who was driving, drove, prior to turning.  So, Tolulope didn't see the buddy in the car.  And then she became a static object or target that remained on precisely the exact same spot, awaiting the car to just hit on her and knock her down.  She was motionless, awaiting the vehicle, or was she backing the car?  

At what time exactly did this event occur?  When it occurred during daytime, were they the only persons in the full NAF base?  Nobody can alert Tolulope of the death approaching her?  And all the other occupants in the car that was supposedly Placing, they were facing forward and not minding the destination of the automobile, due to their own safety?  And what is the speed of a vehicle Placing, to be sufficiently powerful to knock somebody down to the degree of passing?  And Tolulope herself couldn't find?  Was she blindfolded?   Has she recently broken her legs not to have the ability to escape death?  How did a combatant, who didn't die in battle, who did not fall to the bullets of bandits and terrorists, lose her life 'an excited secondary college mate', an unlicensed civilian motorist, whose sole duty was to reverse his car to knock down history in the building?  

How did he gain access into the NAF base, at the first location?  Who are the different occupants of the car?  Where's the vehicle?After facing a series of bombardments from angry Nigerians, NAF finally released its interim investigation report on July 19, 2020, as follows: In the procedure, the automobile hit Flying Officer Arotile in the back, knocking her down with significant drive and causing her to strike her head on the pavement.  The vehicle then ran over portions of her body because it veered off the street past the kerb and onto the pavement, causing her additional injuries."  

The first action to be taken by any driver that has suddenly recognized a supposed secondary college classmate is to hoot the horn to get her attention, not to pass her and then suddenly attempt to reverse in her direction.  And this media release says Tolulope was walking in the opposite direction of their passing automobile.  

So, to have the ability to reach her the way NAF would like us to think, the said automobile must first of all veer off its own lane, together with the rest of the automobiles waiting for it to clear off, and then zoom into the opposite lane, where there will be other cars too passing, all of them waiting for this particular car to go straight to hit the goal!  And whoever drove the car managed to strike her, he didn't know that he had struck any object at all until he had run over her body onto the pavement. Why do we ask these questions?  Government has lost ethics, as trust was broken through the years.  

When government officials tell us something, that which we experience is totally different.  Just go back to the recent play between the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).  We were thrilled with stories upon stories of supposed embezzlement, diversion of funds, possession of international homes and mansions, from the authorities media, only for Mr Ibrahim Magu to develop complete refusal of most the allegations.  And nobody has ever come out to defend those tales, such that we are all wondering today whether we ever read them in the first place.  

It is the reason that the Coronavirus pandemic hasn't received due attention from your folks.  Many believe indeed that it is all a part of the usual propaganda of the government.  We ought to get to that level when anything coming officially from the authorities ought to be greeted with maximum attention rather than paranoia.  In this particular regime, we've been fed with lies, half-truths and falsehood, in the title of news and press briefings.  

That is why we find it so difficult to believe the stories coming from NAF about Tolulope. This event occurred in Kaduna, the location of her arrival.   Having released a hasty report which was greeted with much uproar, the general notion is that NAF will only function to warrant its earlier statements, even if subsequent evidence indicates the contrary.  The burial plan as declared by the government is too hasty.   

Peace without justice is a peace of the graveyard and so too ceremonies with no true truth.  Pray, how can we celebrate?  How can we say bye to a celebrity whose death remains a mystery?  How do we match ourselves as a country if we are not certain this isn't some deliberate hatchet job or an assault by terrorists or plain murder? It's not the time for burial nevertheless unless there's something which has to be covered up.  

I have discovered that some people today fall in their bathroom and they die, some get hit by trucks directly in front of the homes, while some others perish from the mere strain.  

This is true indeed, but it will not prevent us from demanding answers to the many questions being raised on this matter.  Tolulope isn't just'some people', she isn't just an ordinary Nigerian, but a role model, who became an inspiration to a lot of young people, who had been a ray of hope to the girl-child and that had been an angel sent to quell the gender imbalance in the army especially.  Thus, we cannot just sit and allow this to be swept beneath the dirty Nigerian rug.  I think the pains that Nigerians feel at this moment and the only way to douse the suspicions is to suspend all the burial plans for today until a proper investigation has been carried out.  It's not the evaluation from NAF, that has since jeopardized itself in the disjointed press releases issued because this unfortunate incident occurred.  

That's what the memory of Tolulope deserves, not a State burial that tends to cover the truth. Who is this Adejoh friend or classmate that ran her down? How old is he? What is the exact scene of this painful event? The NAF base in Kaduna must be some well-built structure with good roads. So, let us look at the scenario properly. Tolulope was trekking on a motorized paved road within the NAF base. 

This Adejoh friend who was driving, drove past her, before reversing. So, Tolulope did not see the friend in the car. And then she suddenly became a static object or target that remained on the same spot, waiting for the car to just hit her and knock her down. She was motionless, waiting for the car, or was she backing the car? At what time exactly did this event happen? If it happened during daylight presumably, were they the only persons in the entire NAF base? Nobody could alert Tolulope of the death approaching her? And all the other occupants in the car that was allegedly reversing, they were all facing forward and not minding the destination of the car, for their own safety? And what is the speed of a car reversing, to be sufficiently potent to knock somebody down to the extent of death? And Tolulope herself could not see? Was she blindfolded? Is she deaf in any of her ears? Has she lately broken any of her legs not to be able to escape death? How did a combatant, who did not die in battle, who did not fall to the bullets of bandits and terrorists, lose her life to ‘an excited secondary school mate’, an unlicensed civilian driver, whose only duty was to reverse his car to knock down history in the making? How did he gain access into the NAF base, in the first place? Who are the other occupants of the car? Where is the car?

After facing a series of bombardments from angry Nigerians, NAF finally released its interim investigation report on July 19, 2020, as follows:

“Upon recognizing her 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. 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.”

The first action to be taken by any driver who has suddenly recognized a supposed secondary school classmate is to hoot the horn for her attention, not to pass her and then suddenly attempt to reverse in her direction. And this press release says Tolulope was walking in the opposite direction of the passing car. So, to be able to hit her the way NAF wants us to believe, the said car must first of all veer off its own lane, with all other cars waiting for it to clear off, and then zoom straight into the opposite lane, where there will be other cars also passing, all of them waiting for this car to just go straight to hit the target! And the person who drove the car was able to hit her, he did not know that he had hit any object at all until he had run over her body onto the pavement.

Why do we ask these questions? Government has lost integrity, as trust has been broken over the years. When government officials tell us one thing, what we experience is totally different. Just go back to the recent drama involving the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). We were entertained with stories upon stories of supposed embezzlement, diversion of funds, ownership of foreign houses and mansions, by the government media, only for Mr Ibrahim Magu to come out with total denial of virtually all the allegations. And nobody has come out to defend those stories, such that we are all wondering now whether we ever read them in the first place. It is the reason that the Coronavirus pandemic has not received due attention from the people. Many believe indeed that it is all part of the usual propaganda of the government. We should get to that level when anything coming officially from the government should be greeted with maximum attention and not paranoia. In this particular regime, we have been fed with lies, half-truths and outright falsehood, in the name of news and press briefings. That is why we find it so hard to believe the stories coming from NAF concerning Tolulope.

This event happened in Kaduna, the place of her birth. The laws regulating sudden and unnatural deaths demand that there should be a Coroner’s Inquest into the death of Tolulope, at least to help NAF and the government in preventing a recurrence. Having released a hasty report that was greeted with much uproar, the general belief is that NAF will only work to justify its earlier statements, even if subsequent evidence suggests the contrary. The burial plan as announced by the government is too hasty. In the absence of a proper and an unbiased investigation that will unravel the mystery surrounding her death, in the absence of cogent and credible answers to the many questions being asked by Nigerians, a full national burial with whatever honours has no meaning to us as a nation that has lost one of our very best. Peace without justice is a peace of the graveyard and so too ceremonies without the true facts. Pray, how do we celebrate in ignorance? How do we say bye to a superstar whose death remains a mystery? How do we console ourselves as a nation if we are not sure that this is not some deliberate hatchet job or an attack by terrorists or plain murder?

It is not the time for burial yet unless there is something that needs to be covered up hurriedly. I have heard that some people fall in their bathroom and they die, some get hit by trucks right in front of their homes, while some others die from mere fever. This is true indeed, but it will not stop us from demanding answers to the many questions being raised on this matter. Tolulope is not just ‘some people’, she is not just an ordinary Nigerian, but a role model, who became an inspiration to many young people, who was a ray of hope to the girl-child and who was an angel sent to quell the gender imbalance in the military especially. So, we cannot just sit and allow this to be swept under the dirty Nigerian carpet. I feel the pains that all Nigerians feel at this moment and the only way to douse the suspicions is to suspend all the burial plans for now, until a proper investigation has been carried out. 

It is not the investigation from NAF, which has since compromised itself in the disjointed press releases issued since this unfortunate incident occurred. What is needed is an independent inquiry, led by a serving or retired judicial officer, including medical personnel nominated by the Nigerian Medical Association and other experts in the field. That is what the memory of Tolulope deserves, not a State burial that tends to cover the truth.

Tolulope Arotile

Tolulope dreamt big for her life and for Nigeria. She said:

“I was admitted into NDA on September 22, 2012, and I was commissioned into the NAF on September 16, 2017.  Becoming army employees was a long-time fantasy.  The carriage and everything they stand for is just exceptional.I'm very privileged and quite pleased.  

I'm happy that my success has attracted me to the stage.  And I'm really thankful to the Nigerian Air Force for the chance to get this name.  And I am excited about giving my best to the support " 

Unfortunately, that ambition has been cut short. We demand more answers.

Source: Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN) alert-info

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post