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Following intense backlash on social media, the Enugu state government has released a statement expressing condolences for tragic loss of popular Nollywood actor, Johnpaul Odonwodo, commonly known as Junior Pope.

The actor, along with four colleagues, tragically drowned in the River Niger while filming a movie titled “The Other Side of Life,” as reported by the Daily Gazette.


Enugu residents criticized Governor Peter Mbah for not visiting the deceased’s family or offering condolences, contrasting the actions of the Governor of Akwa Ibom.

On Sunday, the Enugu state commissioner for information and communication, Aka Eze Aka, expressed deep sorrow at the loss, describing it as heart-wrenching.


The statement reads;

“Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State has received with sadness the unfortunate death of the Nollywood actor, Obumneme Odonwodo, popularly known as Junior Pope.”

“The Actor’s Guild of Nigeria confirmed his death on Thursday, leaving the Nollywood community in deep sorrow as they recall and honour his contributions to the industry.”

“Jnr Pope who hailed from Ukehe in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu state alongside three of his colleagues, lost their lives in the tragic boat accident on River Niger while returning from a movie location on Wednesday.”

“Indeed, the death of Jnr Pope
came at a time Enugu state is working so hard to develop the creative potential of its youths for self reliance, employers of labour and export of their talents outside the shores of Nigeria.”

“Mbah expressed deep regrets that such talented, young Nigerians could lose their lives in such unfortunate circumstance.”

“The governor commiserated with the bereaved families, Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) and the entire Nollywood industry on the loss of their members in an ill fated boat accident that occurred along the River Niger. ”

“He promised that the state shall work in concert with the family to ensure a befitting burial for the late movie icon.”

“Junior Pope began his Nollywood career in 2006, working his way up from supporting roles to global fame.”

“Renowned for his versatility, he effectively switched between roles, playing characters ranging from bodyguards to villains, earning accolades such as the Nollywood Most Promising Actor in Nigeria award in 2010.”

“Junior Pope demonstrated his exceptional talent in over 150 films, gaining recognition at prestigious events such as the Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice (AMVC) Awards and the Africa Movie Academy (AMA) Awards.”

“He left behind his wife and three kids.”

“Meanwhile, the Enugu State Government has opened a condolence register for Nigerians to pay their tributes to the fallen Nollywood Star.”

“A statement by the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Aka Eze Aka said the condolence register would be opened at the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Information and Communication, State Secretariat, Enugu effective Monday, April 15, 2024.”

“Those who may not get to the office of the Honourable Commissioner for Information and Communication, may use the following email address to express their condolences.”

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