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She was our shining star – CAS Abubakar mourns Tolulope Arotile

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SADIQUE Abubakar, Nigeria’s Chief of Air Staff (CAS) on Wednesday paid tribute to late Tolulope Arotile, Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot, who died in Kaduna on Tuesday in a road traffic accident.

Abubakar in a series of tweets described Arotile as a disciplined, intelligent and courageous officer whose loss is irreparable for the force.

The CAS submitted that the late 23-year-old officer was a shining star.

I was heartbroken when I received the sad news of the death of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile yesterday in Kaduna,”his tweet read.

“Tolulope, who was winged in October 2019, as the first female NAF combat helicopter pilot, was one of our shining young stars,” he added.

According to the CAS, Arotile added value where she served as Squadron Pilot in Operation GAMA AIKI in Minna, Niger State, adding that she was eager to contribute to the fight against banditry and terrorism in the country.

I recall meeting her at the Minna Airport, while on operational visit, after one of such missions & seeing her eagerness to contribute towards the restoration of lasting peace to the affected areas. Her death is a huge loss to NAF family and indeed the entire Nation,” he said.

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Arotile who was commissioned into the NAF in September 2017 as a member of Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), died eight months after she was commissioned as Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot.

The late young officer hailed from Kogi State.

Meanwhile, Yahaya Bello, Governor of Kogi State has shared his condolences over the death of Arotile.

Bello in his tribute signed by Onogwu Muhammed, his Chief Press Secretary, described Arotile’s death as a national tragedy, classifying her as a top notch military aviator who exuded professionalism and patriotism in service.

“We are devastated by the tragic death of this young promising lady who took bravery to the next level, demystified prejudicial stereotype and flew her parents, state and nation high in honour and professionalism.

“On behalf of the state, I commiserate with the family of late ‪Flying Officer Arotile‬ over this irreparable loss and I pray that the Almighty God grants her soul eternal rest, she will be sorely missed,” the statement read in part.

Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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