President Muhammadu Buhari is in “deep pain” over the death of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot winged by the Nigerian Air Force.
Naija News had reported earlier that the first Nigeria Air Force female combat pilot, Tolulope Arotile died at age 23 as a result of head injuries she sustained from an accident at the Nigerian Air Force base in Kaduna state, northern Nigeria.
The death of the Flying Officer was contained in a statement issued on Tuesday night by the Director of Public Relations and Information Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola.
This statement read, “It is with great sorrow that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) regretfully announces the unfortunate demise of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, who died today, 14 July 2020, as a result of head injuries sustained from a road traffic accident at NAF Base Kaduna.
“Until her death, Flying Officer Arotile, who was commissioned into the NAF in September 2017 as a member of Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 64, was the first-ever female combat helicopter pilot in the Service. During her short but impactful stay in the Service, late Arotile, who hailed from Ife in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State, contributed significantly to the efforts to rid the North Central States of armed bandits and other criminal elements by flying several combat missions under Operation GAMA AIKI in Minna, Niger State.
“The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on behalf of officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of the NAF, commiserates with the family of late Flying Officer Arotile over this irreparable loss. We pray that the Almighty God grants her soul eternal rest,” the statement read.
However, on Wednesday, NAF Director of Public Relations and Information Air Com. Ibikunle Daramola said in a statement that an unnamed ex-classmate was reportedly reversing the car when it hit Arotile who fell and hit her head on the tarmac.
Reacting to Arotile’s death, the Presidency said on Wednesday in a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, that President Buhari was in “deep pain” over the death of Flying Officer.
“President Muhammadu Buhari received with deep pain the passing of Flying Officer, Tolulope Arotile, condoling with the family on loss of such a promising officer, whose short stay on earth impacted greatly on the nation, especially in peace and security.
“The President salutes Arotile’s bravery in the field to protect the country from onslaught of bandits and terrorists, assuring that her memory will be indelible, and her efforts remembered.
“President Buhari commiserates with the Nigerian Air Force, airmen, airwomen and all friends of the deceased, recalling her deft skills in manoeuvring combat helicopters, which he had physically witnessed with pride.
“The President sympathises with government and people of Kogi State on the loss.
“President Buhari prays that the Almighty God will receive the soul of the departed, and comfort the family she left behind”, the statement added.
Like President Buhari, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, wrote of Arotile, “She was a very intelligent, disciplined, confident and 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.”