The remains of the Nigerian Air Force’s (NAF’s) first female combat helicopter pilot, Tolulope Arotile, who died on July 14, has been laid to rest with full military honors at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja today Thursday, July 23.
Her funeral ceremony was attended by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Abubakar Sadique; Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, and his wife; the Senate Committee Chairman on Air Force, Bala Ib’n Nalla as well as her family members and friends.
Arotile, who died on July 14 in Kaduna, is being buried in strict compliance with COVID-19 guidelines, Nigerian Air Force spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said.
She died from severe injuries following a road traffic accident at the NAF base in Kaduna, the Air Force has said.
The driver that hit her was reportedly a former secondary school classmate who, in the process of reversing his car to give her a lift knocked down the deceased.
President Muhammadu Buhari and other national leaders paid homage to the young military star after her demise and the Air Force promised she would be buried with full military honours.
Eight months before her death, she had been commissioned as Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot.
The Thursday burial was restricted to a few guests, due to the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions put in place to stem the spread of the virus.
Other top officials present at the ceremony were the Minister of Women Affairs, Paulen Tallen, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Umar Farouq, and the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali.
Uninvited guests including unaccredited journalists were politely turned back at the entrance to the cemetery as only vehicles of senior officers and immediate family members of the deceased are allowed to drive in, Channels TV gathered.
Meanwhile, the Senate on Thursday observed a minute of silence in honour of Arotile.
The Red Chamber is also asking the Airforce to erect a monument in her honour.
The Senate’s resolution was in response to a motion moved by Senator Smart Adeyemi, a Kogi state lawmaker.
Arotile was an indigene of Kogi state.
Another federal lawmaker from Kogi state, Senator Jibrin Isah, also wants the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of her death.