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Pioneer Nollywood top actor and one of the prominent faces in defunct TV soap – Checkmate, Francis Agu is dead.

Agu, 41 and single, died on Thursday, March 20, 2007 at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), after a protracted undisclosed illness.

It was gathered that prior to his admission into LUTH, Agu, was also on admission for several weeks, at an undisclosed hospital in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State: “It was when his condition deteriorated at Uyo, that the family rushed him to LUTH, but unfortunately, he died,” a source told Daily Sun

Confirming the untimely death, which had thrown Nollywood into another period of mourning, Ejike Asiegbu, national president of Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), described Agu's death as most unfortunate: “Agu's family confirmed the sad and shocking news to me. The death is a colossal loss to Nollywood and indeed his family and fans. We can't question God, it is inevitable and has no age limit. Agu, was well loved, appreciated and known in the industry and we all will miss him greatly.”

Asiegbu also told Daily Sun, that the leadership of AGN and Agu's family would soon officially release the burial programme, promising that the deceased would be given a befitting burial.

Muyiwa Oshunnaike, a seasoned actor and choreographer who was a bossom friend of the late Agu told Daily Sun yesterday that he had lost a soul mate.

Oshunnaike, who cried uncontrollably said he was greatly depressed and that it would take a long time before he recovers from the shock of Agu's death. He described the late Agu as a consumate actor and intelligent man, who was quite level-headed despite his enormous talent.

Segun Arinze, another top actor was completely in a state of shock and could not utter a word.

The fledging Nigerian motion picture industry has with the death of Agu lost three top actors in less than one year. J. T. Tom West and Joe Layode died last year.