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Top Nigerian Bank Executive, Wife, Son Confirmed Dead In US Helicopter Crash

The Chief Operating Officer of pan-African financial group, Access Corporation, owners of Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, has been confirmed dead alongside his wife, son and the former Group Chairman of the Nigeria Stock Exchange and the Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX),
Abimbola Ogunbanjo, in a helicopter crash in the United States.

According to Michael Graham, an executive of the US National Transportation Safety Board, the chartered Airbus EC130 helicopter was flying from Palm Springs, California, to Boulder City, Nevada, when it crashed in the Mojave Desert near the California-Nevada border late Friday night.

The aircraft, which was operated by California-based charter company Orbic Air, took off around 8:45 p.m. PT and crashed just after 10 p.m. near Interstate 15 in Halloran Springs, California, Graham said.

He added that the helicopter caught fire upon impact, Graham added, citing witness reports. Witnesses also reported rain and a wintry mix when the crash happened, he said.

The NTSB is investigating the cause of the crash and was on the scene in Halloran Springs, California, Saturday night collecting evidence, Graham said at a news conference.

The New United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also confirmed the crash in a statement late Saturday.

In the statement, the FAA confirmed that all onboard are dead as search revealed that no survivors had been found as of Saturday.

“We were made aware of a downed aircraft at approximately 10:12 p.m., on February 10, 2024. The scene of the crash was determined to be east of the 15-Freeway, near Halloran Springs Road,” the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department also said in a statement.

Here are 10 things to know about the late Herbert Wigwe:

  1. Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe who died at the age of 58 in a helicopter crash in the United States, was born on August 22, 1966. He hailed from Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State.
  2. He had a degree in Accountancy from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu.
  3. He also had a Masters degree in Banking and Finance from the University College of North Wales, and an MSc in Financial Economics from the University of London.
  4. Wigwe started his career at Coopers & Lybrand, Lagos as a management consultant, later qualifying as a chartered accountant.

5 . After a stint at Capital Bank, he joined Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), where he spent over a decade working in corporate and institutional banking, rising to become the executive director in charge of institutional banking.

  1. While with GTB, Wigwe worked with Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede to buy Access Bank, which used to hold the 65th position amongst the list of 89 banks in the country.
  2. Wigwe also served as the Chairman of Access Bank Ghana Limited, Access Investment & Securities Limited, Central Securities and Clearing System (CSCS) and the current Chairman of Access Bank (UK) Limited until his demise.
  3. He later succeeded Aig-Imoukhuede as the MD of Access Bank and worked on a vision of transforming the bank into a global bank, a feat he achieved in his lifetime. He not only took the bank beyond the African continent, he expanded it to become a financial conglomerate.
  4. In October 2022, a Nigerian national honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) was conferred on him by President Muhammadu Buhari.
  5. Herbert Wigwe founded the wave-making Wigwe University located at Isiokpo, Rivers State. The university is expected to kick off in September 2024. In a recent interview, Wigwe had said the University valued at over $500 million will offer undergraduate courses in management, science and engineering, information technology, and creative arts.

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