Peter Ayoade, Ibadan
Yoruba group, Apapo O’odua Koya (AOKOYA), has reacted that the Nigerian first female combat helicopter pilot, the late Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, may have been murdered.
This was as the group, in a statement, called for independent enquiry into the death of the late female pilot who was reportedly killed in an auto accident at the Nigerian Airforce Base, Kaduna, on Tuesday.
Until her mysterious death, the late Arotile, who hailed from Iffe in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State, was the youngest and only female combat helicopter pilot.
She completed her training in South Africa and was winged as a combat helicopter pilot, last year. She carried out successful area battles against armed bandits and suspected terrorists.
Her last operation, tagged “Operation GAMA AIKI”, was in Minna, Niger State where despite rockets fired at her, she succeeded in killing many bandits and fundamentalists.
AOKOYA, in the statement signed by its officials, Captain Abigo Oritsebugbemi (rtd) and its Middle Belt coordinator, Akeem Meduna, alleged that there was a rancor between the late Arotile and some top military commanders before her death.
The Airforce authorities ascribed her death to an accident that reportedly occurred when her excited ex-schoolmate was reversing to greet her, but AOKOYA suspected foul play and asked the international community to conduct an investigation into the circumstances of her death.
“We have very strong reasons to assume that Tolulope Arotile was murdered. We are aware she had altercations with top military commanders before her death and some hated her to a tilt for her brilliance and exploit against Boko Haram and bandits,” it said.
The group said the theory that Arotile died in a motor accident inside the Airforce Base was a cock and bull story and very doubtful.
“We want full investigation into this suspicious death. We find it difficult to believe the story based on the information at our disposal.
“How can she have died in a traffic accident right inside the Airforce Base in Kaduna? We have made preliminary findings and all officers who spoke to us could not understand how that could have happened. One officer, her colleague in Kaduna specifically said the case of murder was the strongest motive”.
“There must be an independent enquiry for anyone to be convinced Tolulope Arotile was not murdered. The Fulani hegenomy hated bright officers of southern origin. Tolu was exceptional and her brilliance was a threat to the establishment,” it said.
The group recalled that a Yoruba chief of Airforce, Shittu Alao, was murdered in 1969, adding that Dr Ademola Adetokunbo, who carried out an autopsy on the Airforce chief, was also murdered.
“The Commandant of Nigerian Naval School, Mrs J.O Ogundana was murdered few months ago. Her body was mutilated and packed in a Ghana Must Go bag.
In the same manner, Dr Yomi Oniororo, a 29-year-old officer of the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA), was murdered in Abuja, 2002.! His body was mutilated. Dare, a senior police officer investigating the murder of Dele Giwa, was also assassinated. His senior brother is the popular journalist, Professor Olatunji Dare.
“We are taking records. At the last count, some 413 Yoruba junior and senior officers have been murdered. Many of them were killed in a ‘neat job’ that looked like an accident.
“We have been reliably informed how Arotile led major onslaughts against bandits and armed Islamic fundamentalist. Her sorties led to deaths of several militants and bandits. We have been informed that their agents and supporters in the military marked her and only succeeded in setting a trap for her.
“The Nigerian authorities are shedding crocodile tears on the murder of Arotile. We promise her murderers that the several cases of murder of Yoruba officers in the Army, Navy or Airforce are being compiled. At the right time when the Yoruba Nation emerges, the murderers will face the full weight of the law,” the group said.