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Nigeria silent on cause of first lady’s death

Mourners filed past an open coffin containing the body of Stella Obasanjo, Nigeria’s first lady, in the presidential banqueting hall on Wednesday, but officials in Africa's most populous country kept silent on how she died in Spain.
/ Source: Reuters

Mourners filed past an open coffin containing the body of Stella Obasanjo, Nigeria’s first lady, in the presidential banqueting hall on Wednesday, but officials in Africa's most populous counrty kept silent on how she died in Spain.

President Olusegun Obasanjo has said only that Stella died “while on holiday and without noticeable illness."

But Spanish media reported that Stella Obasanjo, 59, died on Sunday morning after cosmetic surgery at the exclusive Molding Clinic in the coastal resort of Marbella.

Dispute over how and when she died
The luxurious Molding Clinic, fronted with palm trees, offers treatments such as 'The Molding Mask’ it says can make patients look 20 years younger.

It issued a statement saying it had provided information regarding Nigeria’s first lady to the judicial police but that she did not die at the clinic during an operation and that the causes of death were unknown.

A statement issued by the nearby USP Hospital said she was already dead when her body arrived at its emergency unit from another clinic at 2:35 a.m. on Sunday.

“The government has not denied that she went for cosmetic surgery, so one is bound to believe it,” said Pini Jason, a columnist for Vanguard newspaper. “If so, it was a frivolous death.”

Mired in corruption scandal
Stella was known for charitable work with children and HIV/AIDS sufferers but was also implicated in a corruption scandal earlier this year.

Nigerian police arrested the publisher of the weekly Midwest Herald newspaper in May after it accused her of a role in offering to sell public properties at below market prices.

President Obasanjo sacked his housing minister in April after she offered about 200 houses, most worth over $1 million each, to several top officials and Stella’s relatives.

The Herald had labelled her “Greedy Stella” and accused her of having a role in the sale.

Stella Obasanjo never made any public comment about the sale but her relatives said they did not solicit any property.

President Obasanjo revoked the offer and expressed regret at the embarrassment caused to the beneficiaries.