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20 notable Nigerians who died in 2021

2021 is winding down in less than five hours.  Naturally, the year has brought both  good and bad times. Part of the ‘uglies’ witnessed this year was the deaths of some notable Nigerians who to a large extent made a mark while they were alive.

On the list were clergies, activists, entertainers, military personnel, and politicians. (Please note that the list is in no particular order and may not have been exhaustive.)

Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru

Attahiru resumed as the Chief of Army Staff on 26 January 2021. His service, unfortunately, came to an end on 21 May 2021when he died in the 2021 NAF Beechcraft B300 King Air 350i crash near Kaduna International Airport. He died aged 54

Attahiru resumed as the Chief of Army Staff on 26 January 2021. His service, unfortunately, came to an end on 21 May 2021when he died in the 2021 NAF Beechcraft B300 King Air 350i crash near Kaduna International Airport. He died aged 54.

Pastor Dare Adeboye

He was the son of Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). The 42-year-old died in his sleep on 4 May. He was mourned by many Nigerians, especially people of the Christian faith.


Rev Wilson Badejo & Mrs Yinka Badejo

There’s this theory that when couples are very close, their death dates are usually not too far apart. Maybe that was the case with Rev Wilson and his wife, Yinka, who died barely three months apart.

Wilson, who was a former General Overseer of Foursquare Gospel Church Nigeria, died on 7 August, while his wife died on 12 November after suffering from an undisclosed ailment. She was said to have been ill even before her husband passed on.

Sani Dangote

He was the younger brother of Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, and Vice President of the Dangote Group. Sani died in the United States after a protracted illness. He was once appointed as the Consul-General of the Romanian Embassy in Nigeria and was a member of several chambers of commerce, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Shipping of Nigeria, and President of the Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers Association (FERSAN).

Rachel Oniga

Oniga was a well-known Nollywood actress. She began her acting career in 1993 and became a regular face on the screen. She passed away on 30 July at the age of 64 from a cardiac condition.

Yinka Odumakin

Until his death, Odumakin was the national publicity secretary of Afenifere, a Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group. Always vocal on political and social issues, Odumakin was a go-to analyst for many media houses and journalists. On 3 April, he died of COVID-19 at the age of 54 at the Lagos State Teaching Hospital

Victor Olaotan

Victor Olaotan passed away on 26 August. The actor was well recognised for his starring role in the hit TV series ‘Tinsel’ as Fred Ade-Williams. After being involved in a horrific accident, he remained bedridden for five years. He died at the age of 69 after an almost three-year battle for his life in a Turkish hospital.

Folake Aremu (Orisabunmi)

Aremu, a popular Yoruba actress, earned the nickname ‘Orisabunmi’ from admirers after a role she played in the 1980s. On 5 January, the fiery screen queen who rose to fame in the 1980s as Orisabunmi in the TV series ‘Arelu’, died at the age of 60.

Sound Sultan

Olanrewaju Abdul-Ganiu Fasasi, popularly known as Sound Sultan, was a rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, comedian, and record producer who died on 11 July of Angioimmunoblastic T-cell Lymphoma. Aged 44, he was recognised as one of the pioneers of hip-hop music in Nigeria. He was well-known for utilising music to raise awareness about poverty, corruption, bad governance, and other socioeconomic issues in Nigeria.

TB Joshua

Temitope Balogun Joshua was an infamous Nigerian charismatic pastor, televangelist, and philanthropist. He was the founder and leader of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), a Christian megachurch that broadcasts on Emmanuel TV from Lagos. He passed away on 5 June at the age of 57.

Karibi Fubara

The death of Kariba Fubara is a fresh wound on Nollywood’s and Nigerians’ hearts. Fubara disclosed he had kidney cancer in 2020. He died on 12 December. Before his death, Fubara starred in films such as ‘We Speak Dance’ (2018), ‘Ratnik’ (2020), and ‘God Calling’ (2018).

Sir Victor Uwaifo

Known as the Guitar Boy, Uwaifo was a legendary writer and musician who passed on on 28 August at the age of 80. He won the first gold disc in Africa for ‘Joromi’, which was released in 1965.

Babatunde Omidina (Baba Suwe)

If you want to laugh and roll on the floor, watch any movie in which Baba Suwe starred. If there was any actor-comedian worth watching in Nollywood, it was definitely Baba Suwe. However, death took him on 22 November at 63 as the actor failed to fully recover from a stroke.

Lateef Jakande

Jakande was a journalist who later became the governor of Lagos state from 1979 to 1983. He was one of the few politicians said to genuinely serve the people as some of the projects he inaugurated during his tenure still remain till today. He died on 11 February at the age of 91. Jakande was also a Minister of Works under the General Sani Abacha regime.

Justice Bolarinwa Babalakin

The retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria died on 4 December at the age of 94 and buried in his hometown, Gbongan, Osun State. Babalakin was a former president of the Muslim Ummah of South-West Nigeria (MUSWEN), and was survived by children, including Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN), the Chairman, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Ltd.

Dr Chike Akunyili

A foremost medical doctor in Enugu state, Chike was the widow of the late Prof Dora Akunyili, a former Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). Chike was killed on 28 September by gunmen on his way from a commemorative lecture in honour of his late wife.

Dr Obadiah Mailafia

A former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mailafia passed on September 19 at the age of 64. He died from COVID-19 complications at the National Hospital, Abuja, Nigeria. Mailafia was a development economist, columnist, and a member of the African Democratic Congress.

Sadiq Daba

The legendary actor, who was previously a broadcaster, died on 3 March after suffering from cancer. He was aged 69.

Pastor Nomthi Odukoya

Nomthi, who died aged 47, was the wife of the senior pastor of the Fountain of Life Church, Taiwo Odukoya. Nomthi, from South Africa, died after battling with cancer for two years.


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