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President's wife died in coma after surgery 'for slimming'

Posted by From Jonathan Clayton and Edward Owen in Madrid on 2005/10/24 | Views: 5961 |

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President's wife died in coma after surgery 'for slimming'


THE death of Stella Obasanjo, the wife of the President of Nigeria, after cosmetic surgery at a clinic on the Costa del Sol was being investigated last night after a post-mortem examination.

THE death of Stella Obasanjo, the wife of the President of Nigeria, after cosmetic surgery at a clinic on the Costa del Sol was being investigated last night after a post-mortem examination.


“Greedy Stella”, as she was dubbed by one opposition newspaper because of her closeness to various corruption cases, loved being married to Nigeria’s “Big Man”.


It appeared that the vanity that led her to order the arrest of a newspaper publisher for critical reporting of her activities this year may have cost her life. Although the exact cause of her death on Sunday remains a mystery, it is believed she suffered complications after undergoing cosmetic surgery at a clinic in Marbella.


The clinic refused to specify the procedure that she had undergone, but press reports in Spain, quoting sources close to the Nigerian presidency, said that Mrs Obasanjo, 59, had died from complications that arose from cosmetic surgery to reduce body fat. The Nigerian Embassy in Madrid told The Times that President Obasanjo would decide if any details would be made public. A spokesman confirmed that a Spanish court had been notified of the unusual circumstances surrounding her death.


Her body was flown back to Nigeria last night.


“Mrs Obasanjo arrived in Málaga on a commercial flight from Paris for a private visit last Friday. She had been on her way to Rome to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Francis Arinze becoming Nigeria’s first cardinal. Cardinal Arinze has been tipped as a potential future Pope.


She went for a medical check up and underwent surgery,” the embassy spokesman said. She then returned to the private residence where she was staying with her escort. The spokesman added: “She became unwell and returned to the clinic. All we know is that there were complications and she was taken to the USP hospital in Marbella early on Sunday morning where she died.”


It is thought that she had suffered a severe asthma attack and lapsed into a coma. The hospital in Marbella said all efforts to revive her had failed because she was in an advanced state of shock.


Coroners investigating the possibility of medical malpractice performed a post-mortem examination yesterday. Antonio García de Gálvez, director of the Málaga Institute of Forensic Medicine, where the 2½-hour post-mortem took place, indicated that it had provided clear information on the cause of death, but declined to discuss details.


Mrs Obasanjo was a controversial figure and her death is certain to spark conspiracy theories in a country full of rumour and political intrigue. Remi Oyo, a spokeswoman for the President, said in a statement on Sunday that the President’s “beloved wife” had died but gave no other details. Long queues formed outside State House yesterday to sign a book of condolence.


President Obasanjo, like nearly all Africa’s “Big Man” rulers, had several wives before returning to power in 1999 but since then Stella has been considered his official wife. Asked what role she intended to play during her husband’s tenure, she replied at the time: “The President has said I am going to be his wife. That is what I am going to be.”


Such statements, however, underplay her influence and behind-the-scenes role in Nigerian life which, in recent months, had increasingly embarrassed President Obasanjo, who has pledged to eradicate corruption. The President frequently said that he would not tolerate laxer standards for his family and friends, but the company his wife chose to keep was seen a weak link in his anticorruption drive.
 
 

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