Wife of ill rebel leader put in Nigeria government

The wife of the rebel leader who led the breakaway of the Republic of Biafra, which plunged Nigeria into a brutal civil war 40 years ago, has been appointed by Nigeria's president to a government position.

In a statement issued Wednesday night, a spokesman to President Goodluck Jonathan said Bianca Ojukwu would serve as senior special assistant of diaspora affairs. The statement said her appointment took immediate effect.

She is the wife of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, a millionaire's son and army officer who led Biafra during a war that saw as many as 1 million people killed. Ojukwu, now 77, has been hospitalized in the United Kingdom with an illness for several weeks.

The appointment comes as Jonathan attempts to solidify his power before an April presidential election.

(This version CORRECTS APNewsNow. Corrects Ojukwu's age to 77, instead of 67.)