Stella Obasanjo

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Stella Obasanjo (14 November 1945 – 23 October 2005) was the First Lady of Nigeria from 1999 until her death. She was the wife of former president Olusegun Obasanjo, although she was not the First Lady in 1976, when Obasanjo was military head of state. She died while undergoing elective liposuction abroad.

Stella Obasanjo was a political activist in her own right, supporting such causes as women's liberation, youth as leaders of tomorrow, and the rehabilitation of a war-torn Nigeria


Stella Obasanjo was from Iruekpen, Esan West, Edo State. Her father, Dr. Christopher Abebe, was chief of the United Africa Company (UAC) and would become the first indigenous (African) chairman of UAC Nigeria. Her mother, Therasa, graduated from Pitman's College, London.

Stella Abebe began her education at Our Lady of the Apostles Primary School. She enrolled at St. Theresa's College, where she obtained her West African School Certificate in 1964 with grade one. Two years later she obtained the higher school certificate. She was admitted to the University of Ife now (Obafemi Awolwo University), Ile-Ife, for a bachelor's degree in English, attending from 1967 to 1969. In 1969 she transferred to the UK to complete her studies, this time round, in insurance, in London and Edinburgh, Scotland, from 1970 to 1974.

She completed her education with a certificate as confidential secretary from the Pitman College in 1976. She returned to Nigeria in 1976 and soon after married General Obasanjo, who had become Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, following the assassination of General Murtala Mohammed. When she became Nigeria's First Lady in 1999, following the election of her husband as president, Obasanjo established Child Care Trust, for the care of underprivileged and/or disabled children.

As first Lady of Nigeria, she joined the Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation and on 6 February 2003, she declared the day the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. Reporters Without Borders reported that Orobosa Omo-Ojo, the publisher of the Lagos-based Nigerian Midwest Herald, was arrested on Stella Obasanjo's orders on 2 May 2005 and taken to Akure prison. His arrest was prompted by an article the previous week about her, headlined "Greedy Stella".


Stella Obasanjo died a few weeks before her 60th birthday from complications of cosmetic surgery at a private health clinic in Puerto Banús, Marbella, Spain, on 23 October 2005. The surgeon, identified only as "AM" in court, was sentenced to one year of imprisonment in September 2009 on a charge of "causing homicide through negligence", disqualified from medicine for a period of three years and ordered to pay €120,000 (approximately US$176,000) in compensation to Stella Obasanjo's son Prosecutors had requested a two-year jail term and five-year disqualification. A request for compensation for the Nigerian government was also rejected The physician had misplaced a tube designed for a liposuction procedure into Obasanjo's abdominal cavity. She sustained a punctured colon and lacerated liver and died two days after the surgery.The doctor did not immediately answer his mobile phone when called after performing the operation and reportedly left Obasanjo for four hours. Had she been hospitalised in time, it is thought she might have survived her injuries.

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