The Nigerian Air Force authorities in Kaduna have not been transparent regarding the circumstances of the strange death of Flight Officer Tolulope Arotile, Nigeria’s first female combat pilot.
My friend, Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, is absolutely right to raise questions and to demand answers.
There are huge gaps and implausibilities in the official account of the Air Force–the story that the officer was accidentally knocked down by an excited friend reversing his car. Go and read Bamidele’s update to see if this story passes the reasonability and plausibility tests.
In the absence of transparency, conspiracy theories and claims of official coverups are beginning to swirl. That’s what happens when information and details are not forthcoming.
Missing details include the friend’s name, whether he is an Air Force personnel or a civilian, what Tolulope was doing on the base on her day/week off when she did not live on the base, whether she died on the spot or later, whether the friend has been interrogated and if so what he said, whether there are eye witness accounts that corroborate or refute the friend’s account, etc.
One of the unspoken factors fueling the speculations is that Tolulope has, as reported, participated in operations against insurgents in the Northeast and so-called bandits in the Northwest, elements of whom have recently merged with Boko Haram per reports in Premium Times and other outlets.
We know that terrorist groups, including Boko Haram and Islamic State militants, have a serious theological aversion to being killed by a female soldier, hence the recruitment and rumored effectiveness of female Kurdish fighters in the anti-IS military campaigns in Iraq and Syria. By all accounts, IS militants feared and detested the female Kurdish fighters more than they did their male adversaries.
Those who study terrorist ideology say the groups believe that being killed by a female soldier deprives one of the benefits of martyrdom, which terrorists seek.
Those who are speculating on the possibility of an assassination are cryptically referencing this terrorist ideology because the belief makes female soldiers and fighter pilots terrorists’ number one enemies. This is the subtext of the speculation on the possibility that BH probably engineered Tolulope’s assassination.
The Air Force authorities have to move quickly to explain the full circumstances of her death and stop this and other speculations from taking hold.