Stella Obasanjo

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Stella Abebe Obasanjo
First Lady of Nigeria
In role
29 May 1999 – 23 October 2005
Preceded by Fati Lami Abubakar
Succeeded by Turai Yar'Adua
Personal details
Born 14 November 1945
Esan West, Edo State, Nigeria
Died 23 October 2005(2005-10-23) (aged 59)
Puerto Banús, Marbella, Spain
Spouse(s) Olusegun Obasanjo

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.[1][2] Her mother, Therasa, graduated from Pitman's College, London.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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.[3][4] 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.[6] Prosecutors had requested a two-year jail term and five-year disqualification.[7] A request for compensation for the Nigerian government was also rejected.[8] The physician had misplaced a tube designed for a liposuction procedure into Obasanjo's abdominal cavity.[9] She sustained a punctured colon and lacerated liver[6][9] and died two days after the surgery.[10] The doctor did not immediately answer his mobile phone when called after performing the operation and reportedly left Obasanjo for four hours.[6][9] Had she been hospitalised in time, it is thought she might have survived her injuries.[11][12]


  1. ^ Info re Dr. Christopher Abebe Archived 27 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Info re Dr. Christopher Abebe[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Bah, Binta (22 February 2012). "Zero Tolerance to FGM Means FGM Should Not Be Tolerated". Daily News. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  4. ^ "History of the Campaign". CAGeM. Archived from the original on 25 August 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  5. ^ "Assault on journalists by first ladies on eve of World Press Freedom Day". Reporters Without Borders. 4 May 2005. Retrieved 22 September 2009.[dead link]
  6. ^ a b c "Doctor jailed over former first lady's lipo death". Australian Broadcasting Company. 2009-09-22. Retrieved 2009-09-22.
  7. ^ "Spanish doctor sentenced to jail over death of Nigerian first lady". AFP. 2009-09-22. Retrieved 2009-09-22.
  8. ^ "Doctor sentenced in death of Nigeria's First Lady in Marbella". Typically Spanish. 22 September 2009. Archived from the original on 26 September 2009. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
  9. ^ a b c Kingstone, Steve (2009-09-22). "Doctor jailed for Obasanjo death". BBC. Retrieved 2009-09-22.
  10. ^ "Spanish doctor sentenced for Nigerian's death". AP. 2009-09-22. Archived from the original on 2013-01-28. Retrieved 2009-09-22.
  11. ^ Paul Ohia (22 September 2009). "Surgeon Jailed over Stella Obasanjo's Death". THISDAY ONLINE. Archived from the original on 28 September 2009. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
  12. ^ Nigerian Bulletin (2009-09-22). "Stella Obasanjo's doctor jailed for negligence – The Nation". Nigerian Bulletin. Archived from the original on 27 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-22.


External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Fati Lami Abubakar
First Lady of Nigeria
29 May 1999 – 23 October 2005
Succeeded by
Turai Yar'Adua