BY SHAIBU HUSSEINI
She picked the call, and after establishing that the caller, who hid his number, was a friend of the house, yelled, ‘What’s up.’ That sort of set the ground for the loads of questions that the caller had for her on a recent ‘abortion mess’ that had been humming around her. A magazine had gone to town the previous week with the ‘tale’ of how the beloved screen actress ‘aborted a six month pregnancy for ex-super eagles star, Uche Okechukwu’. To illustrate the story, the magazine found and used a picture that showed that the actress, scriptwriter and producer might have lost weight following the alleged act. ‘There is no truth in the story,’ Jombo -- who has just finished work on Nollywood Hustler, her most pronounced effort as a producer, charged. ‘I don’t know where they got the story from and I don’t know who is doing this but they are definitely going to hear from me because I am not going to take this lying low.’ The Abriba, Abia State-born actress, hinted that she might be heading to court soon to ‘fish out those behind the attempt to smear her image and character
What’s all this tale about your getting pregnant and aborting it because a chap you were allegedly married to didn’t want the pregnancy?
Well, I don’t think they mentioned marriage, it was said that I was dating him and he didn’t want the pregnancy; so, according to them I aborted the pregnancy.
But what is the relationship between you and the chap that was mentioned?
I have never met him or anybody with that name before... I have never had any relationship with anyone by that name.
To be pregnant, then abort means you were out of the scene for some time. Was there a time you disappeared or did not work that fuelled this tale?
No. I was always around. I mean, I have never stayed away from set over a month or out of Nigeria for two weeks in the last three or four years. I don’t know what brought this kind of tale. I mean to make matters worse; they used pictures of years ago just so as to deceive people that I have lost weight. The only time I lost some weight was because of work. We were shooting a movie where I played a cancer patient and I needed to lose some weight. But that was work and it has nothing to do with me. I have been very busy, extremely too busy to be off the scene for even two weeks. It’s either I am on set, or producing or performing my role as a Glo ambassador.
So, when you read the report yourself, what was your initial reaction?
I just said to myself, enough is enough. I can’t just keep quiet. To be silent will mean that it is true and it’s just lies. So, this is the final battle. Enough is certainly going to be enough. And come to think of it, I am very free with the press, having worked in, and with the media at various times. They all have my numbers and there is no time that there is a request from them that I don’t respond. If they heard anything like that, I expected them to ask me as some other people have always done. Not sell lies to the public! But honestly, enough is enough. I must get to the root of this matter. We shall expose all those trying to run themselves down and not Uche.
What is your next line of action?
I am taking them to court for this, because I don’t understand what anyone hoped to gain by that kind of story. But I guess the fellow should be prepared because anyone, who writes that kind of story and think I would sit and watch, is a joker. For Christ’s sake, I didn’t drop from tree. I am human. I have a family; I have people in my life that can also get hurt from that story. I am heading to court. I have a name and reputation to protect. No amount of begging can solve this. Someone will have to pay for this to serve as a deterrent to others.
So, is marriage for you, anywhere near?
Maybe that way, the talebearers will leave your back?
The question first is why are they on my back in the first place? This is my life. It’s not theirs and I personally know marriage is what people should do when they are ready and well prepared for it, else you will jump in and out. It’s not a step you take because people won’t get off your back. I think they should just leave me alone so I can concentrate on my work and career. I want to work and learn more. I use this opportunity to thank all my fans most of whom called in to express shock at the tale in the paper. I assure them that we must get to the root of this.
Nollywood Hustlers is your second attempt at producing, is Uche returning to productions because it is no longer profitable being an actress alone?
I don’t think I am in productions because I want to earn more money than I earn as an actress. It has nothing to do with earnings as you are suggesting. It’s just the need to do something you have been craving for. I mean as a writer, my dream is to be able to realise my works as a producer and not necessarily write for others to produce. That was my motivation for shooting Nollywood Hustlers. Emem Isong, Desmond Elliot just finished a joint production. It’s called Holding Hope. Being an actress when it comes to productions is a blessing. I have been here long enough to want to try other things, I mean write or produce the kind of movie I love watching, It has everything to do with growth as a production person.
Around and about Nollywood...
Jungle Ride gets premiere date at Galleria
JUNGLE Ride, Lilian Amah-Aluko and Ajua Dickson’s new movie on love, luck and the increasing rate of unemployment in the country will be screened to a quality crowd at a special premiere, which holds at the Silverbird Galleria, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Sunday February 28. A cocktail will precede the premiere, which the organisers say is strictly by invitation. Written by Segun Michaels and directed by Kingsley Omoefe, Amah, a notable actress and writer, hinted that the movie would begin its cinema runs, immediately. She expressed optimism that the movie, which stars well-rated Nollywood actors such as Bimbo Manuel, Femi Brainard, Ngozi Nwosu, Chidi Ukwu, Omoni Oboli, Emma Ayalogu and Joseph Benjamin would make a huge impact on the society, especially on the youths. Amah, a first and second degree graduate of English from the University of Lagos and current Vice President of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP) said: ‘Young people often have dreams of suitable white collar jobs immediately after leaving school. Some find this extremely important and others don’t. This is the world of jungle ride, the ever desperate search for a piece of your own greenery.’
Gov Sylva mobilises corporate support for AMAA 2010
BAYELSA State Governor, Mr. Timiprye Sylva, has called on Corporate Nigeria to explore the marketing and branding advantage African Movie Academy Awards offer to promote their products and services to Africa and global audience. He made the call during AMAA Sponsors’ Evening, which held recently at the Eko Hotel, Lagos. Sylva used the occasion to invite the business leaders and captains of industrypresent to partner with the state and Nigeria’s culture/entertainment industry to move it to the next level. The governor noted that entertainment industry generally has brought honour and fame to Nigeria through awards and popularity of Nigerian stars at home and abroad. Sylva also charged Nigerians to be more patriotic adding that Corporate Nigeria should do more to promote ventures and projects such as AMAA.“I urge you business leaders to join Bayelsa in making it the biggest media event in Nigeria. We want the burden of funding to be off our neck; and that is why we have invited you to partner with us. “We are also using this time to invite you to visit Bayelsa and see the great work we are doing. Bayelsa is peaceful and a must-visit tourist destination. We have the longest beach in Nigeria and other attractions that will make visitors want to come again. Because of the location of the state, the tendency is for people to pass through without stopping over. The award is a major platform to bring people to Bayelsa. In the same vein, Mr. Nathan Egba, the state’s Director General, Tourism and Publicity Bureau, who is Chairman of Local Organising Committee, said Bayelsan people have identified with the awards and look forward to every April to see their movie stars from Nigeria and other parts of the world. In her presentation, AMAA Chief Executive, Peace Anyiam Osigwe said the award was set up primarily to promote African film and cinema locally and internationally. She noted African films serve as a link for Africans in the Diaspora with Africans at home adding that African films serve as a shared collective experience, a reminder that Africa is a vibrant continent filled with colour, energy and possibilities. “Over 30 African countries are participating in this edition. We are expecting about 2000 foreign guest from within and outside Africa. We have over 5 million television viewers as it is always live on local TV stations, Africa Magic and streamed online via U-Tube. International media BBC, CNN, German ZDF, CNBC, SABC, AFP cover the event every year. It is a big platform for discerning brand s and organizations to leverage on. We are inviting corporate Nigeria to join as we sell Africa and Nigeria to the world in a positive way,” she said.
N250m for production up for grabs at BOBTV 2010
BOBTV, Nigeria’s leading film and television programmes market, has concluded plans with three multi-media platforms to reinvigorate the film and television programmes industry with the injection of N250million. Two of the multi-media companies collaborating with the company will release their event briefs and host the pitching and commissioning for the projects at BOBTV 2010. The third company will release its own brief at BOBTV and hold its pitching and commissioning at a later date. Projects to be pitched for include films, television soap operas and series, television magazine programmes, documentaries and other audio-visual content, both in English and local languages. According to the Festival Director, Amaka Igwe, “these are the types of collaborations I have been advocating for a long time. We need this at the moment, probably more than at any other time. We all know what the situation is in the industry now, so, I am really excited that this is happening.” All interested content producers, marketers and individuals should contact the organisers for more information.
BOBTV provides a platform for acquisition and exchange of programmes and movies across Africa and valuable alliances for Television Stations and industry professionals. BOBTV also presents a practical arena for new ideas and concepts in television and programmes development and for experiencing the theatrical, communications, business and policy realities of the Nigerian and African audiovisual content industries. This edition is scheduled to hold from March 16 to 18 at the Ladi Kwali Conference Centre, Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja.