By Benjamin Njoku
The family of legendary actress, Rachael Oniga, has cleared the air concerning the cause of her death.
According to the family, the actress died of heart disease, not COVID-19 complications as reported in some quarters yesterday.
The actress reportedly died Friday night in a hospital in Lagos.
In a statement yesterday by the deceased’s sister, Deaconess Toyin Odusote, Oniga, who passed away at the age of 64, had been battling the ailment for some time now.
The statement read in part : “With a heavy heart and total submission to God, we write to announce the passing of our beloved sister, mother and grandmother, Chief Rachel Tabuno Oniga .
“ She died in a Lagos hospital at the age of 64 , on Friday, July 30, 2021 at about 10 pm.
“ Contrary to diverse reports informing that she died of COVID-19 complications, we write to inform the general public that she died of heart related issue, an ailment she battled for a short period before her demise.
“We accept her sudden transition as God’s design and we see it as a function of a race of life well finished.
“Painful as it may, we accept it in good faith and total submission to her Maker.
“We, therefore, desire to be allowed to mourn her death privately for now, as we do cause with deep sense of respect for her soul and the glorious life she lived. “
The deceased’s family, however, promised to announce her burial arrangement in due course.
Meanwhile, many of Oniga’s colleagues have taken to their social media platforms to pay tributes to the deceased.
Leading the pack was veteran actor Jide Kosoko, who described the late actress as “a great professional colleague, a sister and a friend”.
In a statement he posted on film makers’ WhatsApp platform, Kosoko said Oniga’s
legacy of hard work, dedication and commitment to the movie industry would stay fresh in the memories of practitioners.
“Rachel Oniga! What can I say? I never thought I will be saying a painful goodbye to you at this time! You were not just a great professional colleague but a friend and sister,” he wrote.
“The great times we had working together are still very fresh in my memory.”
READ ALSO: Veteran actress, Rachael Oniga dies at 64
“Though your sudden exit is painful, I however take solace in the fact that you lived an accomplished life while with us and gave our numerous fans a lot to smile and laugh about while here on earth. Your legacy of hard work, dedication and commitment to our industry will no doubt stay fresh in our memories.”
Also paying tribute to the deceased, veteran actress, Joke Silva, and lawmaker, Desmond Elliot, described the late actress as “ one of the few originals and committed colleague.”
“Incredible committed colleague …you had to come to correct when playing opposite of Rapel , Rachel Oniga, not much talk but all work. 64 is a bit early, you have completely blinded me,” Silva wrote.
On his part, Elliot said the country and the world of entertainment will miss her greatly.
Until her sudden demise, Oniga was one of the most sought after and influential actors in the Nigerian movie industry.
From Eku in Delta State, the prolific actress was born in 1957 in Ebute Metta, Lagos State. She made her acting debut in the 1996 hit movie ‘Onome’ and went on to star in several big productions including ‘Sango’ and Wale Adenuga’s TV series, ‘Super Story.’
The deceased reportedly had been on Kunle Afolayan’s movie set in Mowe area of Ogun State since last week.
The actress, who was divorced, is survived by three children and several grandchildren.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, whose state the deceased hailed from, expressed bewilderment at the passing of Oniga.
Okowa, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, said the late actress was a consummate actress, lamenting that her demise was a huge loss to the Urhobo nation, Delta and Nigeria.
While commiserating with the Oniga family, Urhobo nation and Nollywood over the death, he noted that the deceased contributed immensely to the “revolution” in the movie industry in the country, saying that she was a great name in Nollywood, which she contributed hugely in birthing and nurturing.