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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Actor TC Okafor shares how he narrowly survived a boat mishap

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Nigerians are still in shock over the tragic boat accident that resulted in the death of popular actor John Pope Odonwodo and his colleagues.

Jnr Pope, along with four others (cast and crew), had just completed filming a scene for the movie “Another Side of Life” by Adanma Luke in Asaba, Delta State, and were on their way to Anambra State.

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While en route to another location, the boat they were traveling in capsized, leading to the unfortunate incident.

Fortunately, some passengers on the boat survived.

TC Okafor, a skit maker and actor who was one of the survivors, shared his harrowing experience during an Instagram live session hosted by producer Stanley_ontop and monitored by PREMIUM TIMES.

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Excerpts:
The journey

“I want to first thank God for saving my life because it’s not easy. I don’t know how I came out of that river. But the only thing I thank God for is that I came out alive with some crew members like Israel, Ogolo, and others.

“One night, I was in a hotel when I received a call from Ogolo. He mentioned he had a job for me and asked me to come to Wicked Man’s house, where we usually shoot movies, which was near my house.

“I said I would join him in the next hour, but I ended up discussing it with some friends, and when I finished, it was already over an hour. I called Ogolo to check if he was still there, and he confirmed. Upon my arrival, he informed me about the job, and then Adanma Luke appeared. The last job I did for Adanma Luke was ‘Shortcut.’ She is a good colleague, and whenever I worked for her, I didn’t charge her like I did others.

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Actor TC Okafor

Crossing the river

“I didn’t usually discuss payment with her. However, after the first job, she only sent me N30,000, which upset me. They gave me the script, mentioning that ‘we will cross the river.’

I asked them how the job would proceed, and they explained that they had already started and needed me on set the next day. I expressed concern about understanding the script thoroughly in such a short time, but they insisted.

“Adanma Luke suggested we discuss further on WhatsApp. However, I reiterated my reluctance to cross the river due to my inability to swim and my cautious nature. I always observe the river before crossing.

“I called my spiritual mother, and she advised me to go so there wouldn’t be any problem. The next day, when we were supposed to start work, they didn’t call me at all, and I was furious because it seemed like they were following their usual pattern of not informing the actors properly.

So, when Ogolo eventually called me and said they needed me on set, I mentioned that Adanma Luke hadn’t contacted me.

“He assured me she would call, but after I hung up, I called her myself and asked about my payment. She stated that she had no money left as she had already paid Jnr Pope, and she offered me N100,000.

“She pleaded with me, and I agreed, partly because of our past relationship and also because she had once helped me by buying diapers for my baby, which had resolved our differences over the previous job I did for her, ‘Shortcut.’

When I arrived at the location, we initially shot scenes in a forest, and then the next day, we moved to Anam, where their pictures were supposed to be taken.

‘Appeasing the river”

“On the first day in Anam, following advice from my spiritual mentor, I poured a bottle of Fanta and some money (N10,000) into the river and gave some money to children in the water, leaving N5,000 with me.

“Upon our arrival in Anam, Jnr Pope had not yet arrived. When he eventually did, he made a video he posted on his Instagram page on Wednesday. He arrived late, around 1:00 or 2:00 p.m., and everyone was exhausted.

“He informed the Production Manager (PM) of his intention to leave, and he departed.

“I instructed one of my assistants, who usually videotapes me on set, to accompany Jnr Pope across the river, and they left together.

“I expressed my desire to follow Jnr Pope to the PM, but he refused, stating that Jnr Pope was the lead and I was the second in command. He asked who would shoot the scenes if I followed Jnr Pope.

“Ogolo suggested I could leave if I wanted to, but he pleaded with me to stay and shoot some scenes since Jnr Pope had already left. I agreed, but before commencing work, I requested my welfare money. Ogolo stated that there was only N1,500 available, which I found insufficient for daily expenses.

Disappointment

“However, I accepted it under the assurance that Adanma Luke would send N20,000 for us to purchase alternatives to marijuana.

“She failed to send the money, and some crew members assumed she had. Additionally, I was transporting her crew members in my car and dropping them off at their destinations at night.

“I reminded her I wasn’t a taxi driver and requested fuel money, offering to contribute N2,000, but she claimed she had no funds. They promised I would be provided with food prepared at the location, but I declined as everyone has their preferences. I asked her to hold onto the welfare money and the funds for alternative substances until I completed the work.

“The next day, Adanma Luke called me to inquire why I had told the crew not to cross the river, accusing me of trying to sabotage her movie.

“I clarified that I only spoke for myself, as I needed time to cross the river and return. I requested the PM to convey to her that she needed to send the agreed N100,000 immediately, or else I wouldn’t shoot, but she failed to do so even until now.

“I was furious, contemplating how to sustain myself, eating at the location and leaving money at home.

“That day Jnr Pope left with my assistant, the rest of the crew departed Anam around 10:30 p.m. without wearing life jackets.

“Neither of us wore a life jacket, and this, combined with the unpaid wages, further fueled my anger. The first person I contacted the next day was Jnr Pope, asking him to help persuade Adanma Luke to pay me, or else I wouldn’t return to the location, as I would disrupt everything if I did.”

“Jnr Pope also asked me to calm down so he could call her. That was around some minutes past nine o’clock in the morning. I was still in bed, seething with anger.

“I called the Production Manager (PM), Ogolo, and informed him about the situation. He inquired if I hadn’t been paid, to which I replied affirmatively.

“He assured me he would speak to her. I also contacted one of the boys on the set to explain that if I arrived at the location, I would disrupt everything.

“However, Ogolo intervened by sending me N50,000 from his pocket to prevent any trouble. Although I didn’t check my bank account, I informed Ogolo that I would complete the work without the money to prove Adanma Luke wrong, instructing her to retain the funds as I no longer needed them.

“I got dressed at home, and they brought me jeans, but my wife suggested I wear shorts, which I did.

Bad omen

“As I left my house, the weather was gloomy, with rain falling, which I interpreted as a bad omen, compounded by my weakness.

“My mother was calling me then, but I couldn’t answer her call. Upon reaching the park, they were trying to reach Jnr Pope, and Ogolo informed me that he had sent me N50,000, which I should return once Adanma Luke paid me.

“I agreed to this arrangement. At that time, Jnr Pope had not yet arrived at the boat park. Despite being called more than twenty-eight times, he assured us he was on his way.

“We waited over an hour, but he still hadn’t arrived. Eventually, he called me and explained that he had contacted Adanma Luke, who assured him she would go to the bank and make the transfer.

“I couldn’t help but chuckle at the amount she would transfer. When Jnr Pope finally arrived, we headed towards the boat pack at the riverbank.

“He waited briefly, mentioning that he had sent someone to buy him alcohol. Eventually, he joined us, and as we embarked on the journey, I always sat in the front seat of the boat to hold the rope.

Accident

“When we were setting off, some were recording videos, so I advised them to keep their phones in their pockets.

“The only individuals wearing life jackets were the DOP and the Director; they were the sole ones. Before boarding the boat, I had poured the Fanta into the river. Jnr Pope inquired about my action, and I explained that I wanted to avoid any issues with the locals. He agreed that it was a prudent decision.

“As we embarked on the journey, Jnr Pope recorded a video while the pilot had earphones on, presumably listening to music.

“Jnr Pope focused his camera on the pilot’s head for his video. I noticed a canoe approaching, so I alerted the pilot. However, due to his apparent lack of experience, he collided with the canoe, causing our boat to capsize.

“Fortunately, I had held onto the rope, which saved both me and the lady in the boat, as she didn’t let go of me. Unfortunately, all my phones were damaged in the incident.”

Rescue

“The river was wide, and the incident occurred in an open area where passersby could witness it from a distance.

“It was the boats at our departure point that spotted us and came to our rescue. By then, I was exhausted, particularly because the lady had remained by my side, and I couldn’t swim.

After they rescued us and I emerged from the water, I sought medical attention and received a tetanus injection for my wound.”

Aftermath

“When I returned from the hospital and arrived at the riverbank, I saw everyone there, including Adanma Luke.

“A young boy informed me that a police officer was trying to reach me, and at that point, Jnr Pope hadn’t been found yet. I took it upon myself to go to the Marine Police and report the accident.

“They expressed frustration, stating that they had repeatedly advised filmmakers to obtain life jackets and adhere to safety precautions before crossing the river. However, many filmmakers ignore these warnings, preferring to avoid the expense by crossing independently.

“I instructed the boy to inform the police officer to meet me where I was standing. When he arrived, he insisted I accompany him to the station by boat. I hesitated, as I had just narrowly escaped one accident, but they assured me they had a life jacket.

“7Suspicious of their competence, I expressed my concerns. Meanwhile, while I was still at the hospital, the pilot had falsely informed Adanma Luke that I was responsible for the accident, claiming he couldn’t see what was ahead because I was blocking his view. Consequently, Adanma Luke ordered my arrest.

“When I arrived, I confronted the pilot, and the misunderstanding was resolved. Shortly after, I left the scene, only to be taken to the hospital for a scan later that night (Wednesday) by my Chairman. I was utterly disappointed.

READ ALSO: Jnr Pope: Three persons still missing, two corpses recovered -NIWA

“At this point, I want to officially declare that I am no longer pursuing an acting career.

“I have survived numerous incidents, including being poisoned multiple times due to this thankless job.

What compensation do I receive for risking my life? Nollywood, you cannot break me. My resolve is unyielding. I prefer to focus on my comedy. If anyone wishes to see me, they can find me there. I don’t care anymore; everyone should hold onto their scripts. As the only child of my parents, I cannot continue risking my life in pursuit of a career in acting.”

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