Nollywood mourns as lawyer dies

Barely a week after the burial of veteran actor, Justus Esiri, in Oria-Abraka, Delta State, the Nigerian entertainment industry, popularly called Nollywood, has lost another member.

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The death of frontline entertainment lawyer, Efere Ozako, filtered into town yesterday. It caused grief and disbelief among the industry’s top echelon and keen followers.

Ozako, also a Delta State indigene like the late Esiri, died yesterday morning after reportedly complaining of a headache on Wednesday.

His wife and close friends became apprehensive after he was refereed the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) from Havana Hospital, Surulere, Lagos, where he was initially rushed to. Even LUTH could not help his case as the lawyer died hours later at the hospital of a condition suspected to be cardiac arrest.

He was 49.

Notable filmmaker, Amaka Igwe, was stunned for word when she heard the news of Osako’s death on telephone. She wept.

“I can’t say anything, I don’t know what to say,” Igwe said in a tone that betrayed her emotion.

Kaine Agari, the late lawyer’s cousin and business partner, must have become distraught on hearing the sad news. Her telephone rang several times without an answer.

The mood at the Surulere home of the deceased depicted how much he was loved. His neighbours cried inconsolably, like the entertainers, who thronged the house in droves.

Early callers at the Ozako’s home were producer and comedy merchant, Opa Williams; actors Fred Amata, Charles Inojie, Kate Henshaw, Emeka Osai and movie director, Fidelis Duker.

Ozako, a Multichoice Nigeria’s Legal Adviser and famous participant at various entertainment conferences, distinguished himself through frantic agitations for “the right of the entertainer to profitable works”. His doggedness as an intellectual property rights commentator changed the lukewarm attitude among Nigerian entertainers.

The late lawyer was well known for his workshop series – Wetin Lawyers Dey Do Sef? He started the series in 2006 through Dtalkshop, an agency he co-ran with Agari. The forum was meant to awaken filmmakers and musicians to the possibilities of living and feeding well from their artistic endeavours. The late Ozako frowned at the activities of pirates and similar rights infringers.

It was learnt that the late lawyer had been penciled down for honours in the next edition of Ojez Monthly Entertainment Forum, which will hold on the last Sunday of this month. The forum rewards celebrities who have been outstanding in their careers.

Ozako’s pursuit of a commercially viable and respected entertainment industry was unequalled. He saw the commercial potential of the Nigerian film industry as a situation that is largely untapped.

Through Dtalkshop, he engaged economic experts to educate stakeholders on how to harness the business and professional ends of Nollywood, which the United Nations Education and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has rated third in the world, mainly in terms of quantum.

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