As Nigeria celebrates the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day, the people of Kogi State have taken turns in tributary to Flying Officer Tolulope Oluwatoyin Sarah Arotile, who until her death on July 14th, 2020, was the first-ever female combat helicopter pilot in the Nigerian Air Force.
Arotile hailed from Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State.
Tribute To Tolulope Arotile
A very gallant commodore you were, fearless and brave, so sad i won’t hear from you again.At the rising of the sun, and it’s going down, I will always remember you.Whenever the wind blows, it echoes your name into my ears.Words can not define you,neither can tears bring you back but you will always be in our hearts.
Tolu, you are a warrior! rest, for ur warfare is over. Sleep the sleep dat knows not breaking nor disturbance. Dream of battlefields no more, days of dangers, nights of waking. No more troubling sound shall reach thy ear. War shall never cross thy path.
Kogites Missed you
Nigerians Missed you
Tolulope, rest, ur chase is done and vision achieved.
Rest in peace, the Nigerian ace
– Ajayi George Ozovehe
Tolulope Arotile, our fallen heroine and other fallen heroes and heroines!
May God continue to rest your souls!!!
– Kehinde Oloruntoba
Even if anyone forgets you, Onoja Johnson remembers you TOLULOPE AROTILE. The first-ever Nigerian female combat pilot of the Nigerian Air Force.
We remember. We pray for you. We thank you.
– Onoja-Integrity Johnson
According to the preliminary report of investigation into her death, published by the Nigeria AirForce, “late Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, a Squadron Pilot at the 405 Helicopter Combat Training Group (405 HCTG) Enugu, attached to the Air Component of Operation GAMA AIKI in Minna, having recently completed her Promotion Examinations, was in Kaduna awaiting deployment for her next assignment. During this period, she stayed with her sister, Mrs Damilola Adegboye, at Sabo Area in Kaduna, visiting the NAF Base whenever necessary.
“On 14 July 2020 at about 10.55am, Late Flying Officer Arotile received a phone call from her colleague, Flying Officer Perry Karimo, a fellow helicopter pilot from the 405 HCTG, who wanted to discuss arrangements for their return to Enugu, requesting that she comes to the Base so that they could work out the modalities. Subsequently, at about 10.58am, the Late Arotile placed a call through to Squadron Leader Diepiriye Batubo, the Group Operations Officer (GOO) of 405 HCTG, who was in Minna at the time, to clarify issues regarding her deployment. It must be highlighted that the call FROM Flying Officer Karimo as well as the one TO the Squadron Leader Batubo both took place before 11.00am, over 5 hours before the incident which led to her death.
“Flying Officer Arotile was later conveyed from Sabo to the NAF Base Kaduna by her sister, Mrs Adegboye, where the Deceased dropped her phone for charging at a house in the Instructor Pilots’ Quarters belonging to Squadron Leader Alfa Ekele. Her elder sister later dropped her off at the Base Mammy Market at about 4.00pm, where she proceeded to photocopy and laminate some documents. It was while she was returning from the Mammy Market at about 4.30 pm that 3 of her former schoolmates at the Air Force Secondary School (now Air Force Comprehensive School) Kaduna; Mr Nehemiah Adejoh, Mr Igbekele Folorunsho and Mr Festus Gbayegun, drove past her in a Kia Sorento SUV, with Registration Number AZ 478 MKA.
“It is noteworthy that Messrs Adejoh, Folorunsho and Gbayegun are all civilians who live outside NAF Base Kaduna, but were on their way to visit one Mrs Chioma Ugwu, wife of Squadron Leader Chukwuemeka Ugwu, who lives at Ekagbo Quarters on the Base.
“Upon recognising their 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.
“Flying Officer Arotile was subsequently rushed to the 461 NAF Hospital Kaduna for treatment, while Mr Folorunsho (one of the occupants of the vehicle) who is also an Accident & Emergency Nurse at the St Gerard Catholic Hospital Kaduna, administered First Aid.
“Flying Officer Arotile was confirmed dead by the On-Call Doctor at the 461 NAF Hospital at about 4.45 pm on 14 July 2020, as a result of the head injuries.
“The trio of Messrs Nehemiah Adejoh, Igbekele Folorunsho and Festus Gbayegun were immediately detained at the Air Provost Wing, 453 Base Services Group Kaduna as investigations began. They were subjected to Toxicology Tests at the 461 NAF Hospital but no traces of alcohol or psychotropic substances were found in their systems. It was however discovered that the driver of the vehicle, Mr Nehemiah Adejo, did not have a valid driver’s license.
“Traffic Officers from the Kawo Police Station and the Kaduna State Police Command, as well as Road Traffic experts from the Federal Road Safety Corps, were also called in to provide support during the investigation.
“Having carefully considered the foregoing, the preliminary investigation concluded that: a. The death of Flying Officer Arotile was caused by blunt force trauma to the head and significant bleeding resulting from being struck by the vehicle.
May her soul continue to rest in peace. Amen.
b. Being a civil case, the matter will be handed over to the Nigeria Police with a view to further investigating and charging the susp