The Nigerian Air Force says the case of the late Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile will be handed over to the police today (Friday) for investigation and prosecution of the prime suspect, Nehemiah Adejoh.
This is coming 24 hours after Arotile was buried at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja on Thursday.
The Director of Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force, Air Comm. Ibikunle Daramola, who disclosed this on a Channels Television programme this morning, noted that the NAF had concluded its first level of investigation into the incident and would now present the case to the police for further investigation since it involved civilians.
According to him, the police from the Kawo Divisional Police station were involved in the case from the onset.
Daramola said, “In terms of handing over to the police, the handover will be done today (Friday); It does not preclude further investigation by the police, they will still call all the witnesses, they would still interview everybody and also visit the crime scene.
“From the first day, the traffic officer from Kawo police station were invited, an inspector and two corporals were brought in and were able to capture crime scene evidence that was relevant.”
Arotile, 24, Nigeria’s first female combat pilot was knocked down by Adejoh who was driving a Kia Sorento SUV at the NAF base in Kaduna on July 14.
The driver was reportedly reversing the SUV when it hit Arotile who fell and hit her head on the tarmac. The car also ran over part of her body after knocking her down.
The Squadron Pilot at the 405 Helicopter Combat Training Group, Enugu, subsequently died from loss of blood and trauma to the head at the 461 NAF Hospital, Kaduna.
The driver and the other two occupants of the car, Mr Igbekele Folorunsho and Mr Festus Gbayegun, all former schoolmates of the deceased at the Air Force Secondary School (now Air Force Comprehensive School) Kaduna, were taken into custody.
Earlier, reports suggested that Adejoh may face manslaughter charges and on conviction, is liable to seven years imprisonment, according to section 28 of the Road Traffic Law.
Speaking on the NAF preliminary findings which indicated that the deceased died of head injuries, Daramola stated, “There is a process in terms of investigating incidents that occur in the Nigerian Air Force base.
“First of all, we carry out a preliminary investigation to determine who are involved, their level of involvement, to interview witnesses, to look at the scene and so in doing that, that is our own first stage of investigation because it happened on the base.”
He said the NAF has its own air police directorate comprising forensic investigators, who were trained locally and abroad with deep collaborations with the police.
The NAF spokesman revealed that an autopsy was not carried out because the deceased’s parents were satisfied with the way the service handled the incident.
But a security consultant, Vince Onyekwelu, called for a national inquiry into Arotile’s death, stressing that an independent postmortem was also necessary to establish the cause of death.