May 11, 2019

BREAKING: Veteran filmmaker, Eddie Ugbomah, 78, is dead

Eddie Ugbomah

By Osa Mbonu-Amadi

Nigerian filmmaker, Eddie Ugbomah, has died at a private hospital in Lagos at the age of 78.

“I have the permission of the Chair of the Chief Eddie Ugbomah Medical Fund Committee Alhaji Adedayo Thomas (DG, NFVCB) to break the news of the passage into eternity of the Veteran Filmmaker Chief Eddie Ugbomah, OON.

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“The veteran filmmaker died an hour ago at the hospital where he was scheduled to undergo a surgery on Monday.

“Sad, but we totally submit to the Almighty,” Shaibu Husseini said.

Veteran Filmmaker, died around 1 p.m. today 11 May 2019 at the hospital where he was scheduled to undergo a surgery on Monday.

Chief Ugbomah’s demise has been confirmed by the Chairman of the Eddie Ugbomah Medical Fund Committee, Alhaji Adedayo Thomas, Director-General of National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB).

Chief Ugbomah was a Nigerian film director and producer. He directed and produced films such as the Rise and Fall of Oyenusi in 1979, The Boy is Good and Apalara, a film about the life and murder of Alfa Apalara in Oko Awo, Lagos. The plots of some of his films are loosely based on real life events; The Rise and Fall of Oyenusi is based on the career of a notorious robber, Ishola Oyenusi.

Ugbomah is a native of Ashaka Aboh in East Ndokwa Local Government Area of Delta State, but he grew up in the Obalende and Lafiaji area of Lagos. He was educated at St Matthias, Lafiaji, Lagos and City College school. He traveled to London for his college education and attended various colleges studying journalism, drama and later film.

After his studies, Ugbomah worked with BBC and also played minor roles in Dr. No, Guns at Batasi and Sharpeville Massacre. He was a member of an Afro-Caribbean drama group and directed some of the group’s plays such as This is Our Chance, a play staged at the Stoke Newington Theatre Hall. He returned to Nigeria in 1975 and was involved in concert promotion before starting Edifosa, a film production company.

Ugbomah’s films usually tackle contemporary social and political issues. For instance, the Rise and Fall of Oyenusi is about a notorious robber, Ishola Oyenusi who terrorized Lagosians in the early 1970s. The film also explores the problem of armed robbery in Nigeria. Oyenusi featured Ugbomah as the lead actor. In 1979 he released the Mask whose storyline is based on looting of Africa’s artifacts by colonizers and the quest to return those artifacts to Africa.

In The Mask, Obi, the lead character, played by Ugbomah himself tries to sneak into the British Museum to steal the Benin ivory mask and return it to Nigeria. Some reviewers have equated the Obi character to James Bond.

In the early 1980s Ugbomah produced films like Oil Doom, Bolus ’80 and The Boy is Good. Most of his films were shot in 16mm except The Mask. Later in his career Ugbomah turned to Yoruba video films.

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In 1988, he was appointed chairman of the Nigerian Film Corporation.

Chief Eddie Ugbomah, 78, had in recent years had a running battle with death as a result of a brain ailment. He needed N50m for medical treatment.

At a point Chief Ugbomah decided to sell his autobiography, films, documentaries and other valuables to raise fund for his treatment. He also sent a ‘Save My Soul’ (SMS) message to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, where he hails from.

Six weeks later, Ugbomah was still unable to raise the required sum. He sold his house and car but still he found himself nowhere close to N50 million.

Eddie Ugbomah’s last appeal was: “Please, don’t let me die like a rat.”

In the end, did Chief Eddie Ugbomah die like a rat? We will get to know in the days ahead as events and analysis unfold.