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Details emerge on how Nigeria’s first female combat pilot, Arotile, died

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has provided more details about the occurrence that led to the death of 24-year-old Flying Officer, Tolulope Arotile.

Arotile, who became Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot in 2019, was knocked down by a car driven by a former classmate, said NAF’s Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola.

The air force had earlier announced that Arotile, an indigene of Kogi State, died from head injuries she sustained from a road traffic accident at the NAF Base in Kaduna State.

But some Nigerians were unsatisfied with the explanation offered by NAF and demanded investigation into the situation that led to the deceased’s death.

Daramola said, “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 Air Force Secondary School classmate while trying to greet her.

“Before her untimely death, Flying Officer Arotile made significant and outstanding contributions to the war against terrorism, armed banditry and other forms of criminality in the country, flying several combat missions.”

Earlier, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Abubakar Sadique, described Arotile as one of NAF’s “shining young stars” who was winged in October 2019.

Sadique described the deceased as, “a very intelligent, disciplined, confident & courageous young officer who added value wherever she served. As a squadron pilot in Operation GAMA AIKI in Minna, Niger State, she flew her quota of anti-banditry combat missions to ensure a safer, more secured Nigeria.

“I recall meeting her at the Minna Airport, while on operational visit, after one of such missions & seeing her eagerness to contribute towards the restoration of lasting peace to the affected areas. Her death is a huge loss to @NigAirForce family & indeed the entire Nation.”

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