Popular Nollywood Actor John Okafor, Known as Mr. Ibu, Dies Aged 62

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Mr. Ibu died of cardiac arrest Saturday afternoon after he had a relapse about a week ago and was rushed to an undisclosed hospital in Lagos state. His death comes as a shock to many Nigerians who are still grasping with the death of another Nollywood actor Quadri Oyebamiji, popularly known as Sisi Quadri, who died on Friday.

Nigerians are mourning legendary Nollywood actor John Okafor, better known as Mr. Ibu, who has died at the age of 62.

Okafor died of cardiac arrest Saturday afternoon after he had a relapse about a week ago and was rushed to an undisclosed hospital in Lagos state.

Confirming the actor’s death on his Instagram page, Actors Guild of Nigeria President Emeka Rollas wrote on Saturday: “I announce with a deep sense of grief that Mr. Ibu didn’t make it. May his soul rest in peace.” He said the actor had a cardiac arrest.

Okafor rose to fame in the 2000s, starring in the 2004 eponymous film ‘Mr. Ibu’ – which became his nickname. It is still regarded as one of the best Nigerian performances in a comic role.

The popular comic actor went on to star in many Nollywood films like Keziah, Mr. Ibu in London, A fool at 40, amongst others which earned him several nominations and awards. He belonged to the pantheon of Nollywood comedic veterans who fetched fame for their witty remarks.

Despite his fame, Okafor suffered a few health challenges. His health issues first came to public attention last year. He underwent surgery in November to remove one of his legs after fans donated to a crowd-funding scheme for his medical bills.

His last years were “tumultuous”, Nigeria’s Punch newspaper said, with the actor claiming to have survived several attempts to poison him.

He revealed in a 2020 interview that he had been poisoned by his staff who was allegedly paid by his kinsmen. The poison, he said, resulted in his stomach swelling, and he was placed under medication for relief.

Reacting to Okafor’s death, Nigeria’s Minister of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa, described the actor as a household name who made families happy throughout his acting career.

“His death at this time is very unfortunate and a sad one for us all in the entertainment industry. We will sorely miss him. May his soul rest in peace,” Musawa said in a statement.

Fans and colleagues of Okafor have also been effusive with tributes in honour of the man who brought so much laughter to many households in Nigeria and beyond.

“Rest well, sir,” actress Mercy Johnson-Okojie said in her tribute. Law professor and former UN rapporteur Joy Ezeilo said Okafor was a “beloved” figure who “brought laughter to many”.

Local media say Okafor is survived by his wife and 13 children.

His death followed the passing of another Nollywood actor Tolani Quadri Oyebamiji, popularly known as Sisi Quadri, who died on Friday and was buried on Saturday in his hometown of Iwo in Osun State.