By OmoAdéyemo A Adéwálé
As a former clerk to the General Counsel of the Michigan National Guard, I worked at one of the largest military facilities in Michigan.
Then, I used to document my experience on Facebook.
Once I entered the facility, I honestly believed that I had entered a new world. The speed limit at the facility was extremely low. If a car were to hit me, I would only faint to drink some milk. If a car were to hit a fragile 90-year old person, s/he might not even break a bone. What am I saying?
If the speed limit says 10 mph, visitors could probably drive up to 12mph, but soldiers are more likely to stay below the speed limit. They don’t want to put their fellow soldiers at risk. And, more importantly, they don’t want to get caught speeding: it’s a serious offense.
While I was there, every minute, individually and collectively, I witnessed soldiers running and jogging, and all visitors complied with the rules. They knew that some bad-faith people might act unreasonably, so they installed speed bumps, too.
In addition, I was involved in reviewing multiple investigations (at the end of my tenure, my boss was so impressed that he asked me to join the military, but I had different plans), applying different Army Regulations (think of that as their own LAWS; they don’t use civilian codes to adjudicate matters).
The General Counsel of the military is so powerful: every soldier, particularly top generals, seeks an approval from the General Counsel before embarking on anything. The rationale is simple: if you can get the General Counsel to write a memo that supports what you are doing, and the thing turns out bad, you have an affirmative defense: the General Counsel said that it was fine. You, the soldier, won’t be penalized.
In the military, if a dollar is missing, an investigation MUST be conducted. If a military vehicle is involved in a fender bender, the military MUST investigate. If a piece of property is missing, the military MUST investigate (google FLIPL). They also have regulations guiding fraternization between officers. If a death, or a freaking accident occurs on the base, that’s a major investigation that MUST be led by a high-ranking officer. That’s how a professional military should operate.
As the General Counsel’s gatekeeper, I was involved in researching and writing about multiple issues, including a legal review of multiple investigations.
Based on my preliminary review of the information in the public domain, concerning the death of Tolulope Arotile, 24, a decorated combat pilot, I honestly believe, unless proven otherwise, that she may have been a victim of a well-orchestrated plot to murder her. The story just doesn’t add up.
Sure, accidents happen, but the circumstances in this case call for a thorough investigation. Did she report her colleagues to the HR? Was she bullied in the past? Was it an accident (or was it intentional)?
As a matter of urgency, the military MUST launch an investigation into her mysterious death, placing a senior and reputable officer in charge of the investigation. Military investigators are actually better than their civilian counterparts (believe me), so they should provide us with badly needed answers. A mere press statement won’t suffice. Letters of condolences to her bereaved parents won’t suffice. Don’t start talking like Nigerians: don’t invoke the name of God under this post, except you are praying for her soul and family.
Let’s demand a THOROUGH INVESTIGATION and a LEGAL REVIEW of the INVESTIGATION. If anyone is found culpable, the person should be appropriately punished.
Rest in peace, Tolulope!
Adeyemo Adéwálé, PhD, is an American-based lawyer.