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Nigerians have taken to social media to express shock and grief over the death of Tolulope Arotile, the country’s first female combat helicopter pilot.

She made history on October 15, 2019 when she was commissioned as the first combat helicopter pilot in the Air Force following the completion of her course at the Starlite International Training Academy, South Africa.

Arotile was instrumental in fighting insurgency in Nigeria, according to the Nigeria Air Force. 

“She died as a result of head injuries sustained from a road traffic accident at NAF Base Kaduna,” it said.

NAF’s explanation for the cause of her death is, however, stirring controversy among Nigerians.

Mourning her demise, @Aloyebaba said, “What a painful loss! We need an investigation into how she had a road accident inside the base. The nation mourns this great officer, may her soul rest in peace and God grant the family the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.”

Former Nigerian senator, Shehu Sani, hailed her as a “woman who conquered the impossible”.

In a post on Twitter, he said, “Tolulope Arotile was a shining star who broke barriers and defied conventions. She raced through an uncharted and dreaded path and braced the tape in victory. She refused to be hindered by neither the ceiling nor the sky. She was a woman who conquered the impossible and the unimaginable. RIP.”

Another Twitter user, @ChequerSpell, said, “Was she run over? If not, why would she lose her life by being knocked down by a vehicle in reverse? Too many questions, too few answers. I’m so pained over someone I didn’t even know, how much more her own family and friends. RIP.”

Johnson Abe wants the Nigeria Air Force to give Nigerians a more detailed explanation and condoled with her family.

Tweet @JohnsonAbe, he said, “This explanation is quite unacceptable. She is military, some accidents must be investigated and like this one. Condolences to the family and the Nigeria Air Force.”

@OluwafemiMaduka said, “This is so shocking in a rude way. In her short but momentous life she had so much behind her and a lot more ahead of her. She was a pioneer in many ways. May her family find comfort and strength in this very dark time.”

@danbaba_7 tweets, “I shed tears even though I don’t know you personally. I am tired of seeing young, brilliant and useful people in our society suddenly cut down and dispatched to the great beyond. May your soul RIP. This is really painful, her future was so bright.”

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