Amaka Igwe, one of Nigeria's foremost film producers, writers, directors and a leading player in the motion picture industry, is dead.
The news of her death which came to many as a shock, was contained in a statement issued Tuesday in Lagos by The Nigerian Entertainment (NET).
The statement said that Amaka died on Monday night in Enugu after a brief illness.
Confirming the death to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Tuesday in Abuja, Mr. Agility Onwurah, Chairman, Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Abuja Chapter, said Amaka's demise was a big blow to the Nollywood industry. "Amaka had gone to Enugu in company of her husband for pre-production of a new Igbo soap when the sad incident occurred.
"She suffered an asthma attack and was immediately rushed to a hospital, but died before getting there. "Amaka is survived by her husband of 21 years, Charles Igwe, three children, and an aged mother," the statement said.
Born Amaka Isaac-Ene, the deceased was an accomplished writer, producer, director, entrepreneur and teacher. She founded the BoB TV Expo, and was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Top Radio 90.9 FM, Amaka Igwe Studios, and the newly-launched Q Entertainment Networks.
The statement described Amaka as a visionary, and pioneer of modern Nigerian TV drama and film. Amaka hit national limelight as the writer and producer of the award-winning TV soap, "Checkmate" and the spin-off "Fuji House of Commotion".
Her Nollywood projects included Rattle Snake and Violated, two critically acclaimed movies that set Amaka Igwe Studios apart in the much-criticised Nollywood industry.
Her death has triggered lots of reactions from the public, with many expressing surprise at what was seen as the sudden death of the Nollywood star.
One of the earliest reactions came from former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, who described Amaka as the jewel of the Nollywood industry.
Atiku, in a tribute to Amaka, expressed shock at her demise, describing her as a major player in the Nigerian movie industry. Atiku recalled that Mrs. Igwe's first major production: "Decrees of Fate" won four awards at the National Festival of Television Programmes in 1988.
"Amaka (Igwe) was one of the pioneers of the movie industry. Her presence in Nollywood grew to become quite impressive as she amassed a number of well received movies," Atiku said.
According to him, her long-running TV drama serial "Checkmate" and the sitcom "Fuji House of Commotion" regularly held families spellbound.
Similarly, former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, noted that the death of Amaka was not only a blow to Nollywood, but to the country at large.
Condoling with the family for the loss, he said her life was inspiring in many ways, especially for teaching the lesson that virtue prevails in doing whatever one did for the greater glory of God and edification of humanity.
In its own tribute, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), described the demise of Amaka as a national tragedy and urged the federal government to immortalise her memory in a special tribute.
In a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Mr. Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA asked President Goodluck Jonathan to rename the Nigerian Films Corporation, Jos, after the late actress and producer.