…’How he transferred huge amount to his wife a night before his death’
…His last wish
…I watched you died in my arms – wife
By BENJAMIN NJOKU
The atmosphere at the National Theatre Complex, Igamu, Lagos, on Tuesday evening was one of solemnity, grief and despair.
The crowd of mourners, comprising the deceased’s family members, colleagues, friends and well-wishers who dressed in white attires wore long faces while the event lasted. It was a night of tributes and songs in honour of the late movie producer cum director, Chico Ejiro.
Ejiro fondly called Mr. Prolific died on December 25, 2020, from seizure at the age of 57. Following his death, his elder brother, Zeb Ejiro announced that he will be laid to rest today in his family compound in Ozoro, Delta State.
However, as his burial rites approaches and in recognition of Chico’s immense contribution to the growth of the country’s film industry, colleagues, friends and family members thronged the National theatre, venue of the night of tributes to pay their last respects to the departed film maker. It was a night of tears and testimonies about the life and times of the late Chico Ejiro.
The event, which kicked off at 4 pm, was anchored by actor segun Arinze and had in attendance top nollywood practitioners and stars, including Richard Mofe-Damijo, Hon. Desmond Elliot, opa Williams, Keppy Ekpenyong, Lancelot Imasuen, Zik Zulu Okafor, Francis Onwochei.
Others were actress Uche Uwuji, Ada Ameh, Fred Amata, Emeka ossai, Alex Eyengho, Mahmood Ali-Balogun, Paul Obazele, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, Bond Emeruwa, Agata Amata, Victor Okhai, Fidelis Duker, eeddy Lawani, DG Censors Board, Alhaji Adedayo Thomas and GM, National Theatre, Prof. Sunday Dada among other dignitaries.
Popular gospel singer, Sammie Okposo drew the first tears from the crowd when he rendered Chico’s favourite songs, ‘Aka,aka Ya” as he led the praise and worship session. Thereafter, colleagues and friends took turns to pay tributes to the late film producer.
Eugolising his virtues, Hon. Desmond Elliot described Chico as an awesome film maker who inspired so many movie stars, while Zik Zulu Okafor said the late film maker epitomised the creative genii of early Nollywood and the survival spirit that spurred their artistic race.
Chico’s wife, Joy while fighting back tears recalled how her husband died in her arms.
“This is still a rude shock! We had a lot of plans for christmas, we spoke a lot about how the day would go. We were recounting how God has been good to us this past year and how grateful we are to be alive. I never knew it was going to be my last midnight gist with my love.”
“You died in my hands Chico, and left me confused and devastated. I ‘m consoled by the beautiful life you lived and the impact you made in the movie industry and all that crossed your path. in all, I thank God for giving me the opportunity to spend the last 26 years with you. You were a selfless man who was a wonderful husband and a great father,”she said.
For Zeb Ejiro, the late film maker was not just his young brother but also, his best friend. ” You were not just a wonderful brother, you were my closest confidant. You were not just a gift to the Ejiro family, you were a great gift to the creative industry, to Nigeria and indeed, the world. No matter how angry you were, you would always come back to say ‘let’s move on irrespective of what may have transpired . You were a rare poster child of peace,” Zeb said.
According to him, while he discovered the bar in Nollywood, Chico helped to raise it to a new and lofty level. “God used you to discover a generation of motion picture practitioners through your stunning number of movies, thereby creating avenues for people to be gainfully employed and enabling them to put food on their tables,” he added.
The event, however, climaxed with a documentary on Chico, which was put together by his industry friends titled, ‘Mr. Prolific.”
Meanwhile, a source close to the late film producer, has revealed how the deceased transferred a large sums of money to his wife, a night before his demise.
According to the source, Chico had a premonition that he was going to die and that was why he decided to transfer all the money in his account to his wife’s just to save her the stress of going to the bank for any transaction.
Revealing further, the source said that the late film produce asked his wife to ensure that part of the money is being used to process his son’s travelling document to the United States, as well as pay his daughter’s school fees when the school resumes.
When his bewildered wife, however, inquired to know why he was transferring all his money to her, Chico was said to have explained that he didn’t want to spend the money, adding “It’s just for safe keeping.”
“He also sent me a text message, revealing where he kept all his secret documents and values,” the source added.