BY Adelani Adepegba
Tears and emotions flowed on Thursday as the remains of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile were laid to rest at the military cemetery on Airport Road, Abuja.
An ambulance belonging to the Nigerian Air Force with registration number AF 442, had brought in the body.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Abubakar Sadique; Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello and his wife; the House Committee Chairman on Air Force, Bala Ib’n Nalla and the family members of the deceased were there to pay their last respects.
The country was thrown into mourning last week Tuesdaywhen the Nigerian Air Force first announced that the country’s first female combat helicopter pilot died from a road traffic accident at the NAF base in Kaduna State.
The air force said the female officer sustained head injuries from the accident when she was “inadvertently hit by the reversing vehicle of an excited former Air Force secondary school classmate while trying to greet her.”
NAF said Arotile was hit by an ex-classmate, Nehemiah Adejoh, who had no valid driver’s licence, noting that the matter, being a civil case, would be transferred to the Nigeria Police Force.
Meanwhile the Senate, on Thursday, observed a minute silence in honour of the late Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile.
This followed a motion by Senator Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West), who noted that Arotile served the nation as a Squadron Pilot at the 405 Helicopter Combat Training Group, Enugu, attached to the Air Component of Operation GAMA AIKI in Minna, Niger State.
She had recently completed her promotion examination and was awaiting her next deployment, Adeyemi said. The lawmaker also noted that, as a participant in the GAMA AIKI in Niger State, she flew her quota of anti-banditry combat missions to ensure a safer and more secured Nigeria.
“Before her untimely death, she made significant and outstanding contributions to the war against terrorism, armed banditry and other forms of criminality in the country,” he said. He added that her sad demise had reduced the ranks of the Air Force’s female pilots to six, thus she deserves to be memorialized in the Nigeria’s history.