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Herbert Wigwe: Atiku, Obaseki, others mourn Access Bank boss killed in helicopter crash

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Group Managing Director/CEO of Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe

Herbert Wigwe, Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc, was reportedly killed after a helicopter carrying him and five other people crashed near the California-Nevada border in the United States of America on Friday night.

According to multiple media accounts, his wife, Chizoba, his son, and Abimbola Ogunbanjo, former Group Chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, were also involved in the deadly incident. Three other, unidentified crew members died in the crash.

The US Federal Aviation Administration confirmed the disaster on its website, saying, “A Eurocopter EC 130 helicopter crashed near Nipton, California, around 10 p.m. local time on Friday, February 9.” There were six individuals on board.

“The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide any updates.”

According to NBC Los Angeles, the helicopter that crashed was registered to Orbic Air, a Burbank-based tour company. Orbic Air could not be reached for a comment because their phone number was not available.

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The New York Times reported that no survivors had been recovered as of Saturday morning, citing a statement from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

The statement read, “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-Motorway, near Halloran Springs Road.”

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki were among those who expressed sadness at the untimely death of the Access Holdings Plc CEO.

In a tweet on his X profile on Saturday night, Atiku described the situation as regrettable.

He wrote, “I’m deeply saddened to hear about the unfortunate incident that led to the loss of Herbert Wigwe, Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc, and his family. Indeed, Herbert Wigwe, consummate banker, education promoter, and philanthropist, numbered his days. On behalf of my family, my heart goes out to their loved ones and everyone affected by this unfortunate incident. May their souls rest in peace.”

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Reacting to his demise, Obaseki, on his part, said the death of Wigwe “has left me extremely shocked and devastated.”

In a statement he personally signed, he said, “We also unfortunately lost Wigwe’s wife and son, as well as the former Group Chairman of the Nigeria Stock Exchange, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, in the crash. The tragic incident is painful and heart-wrenching, and we pray for God’s abiding comfort in this profoundly difficult time.

“Wigwe was a colossus in Nigeria’s financial sector, leading Access Bank to become an international brand that placed Nigeria on the global map of first-class financial services. I commiserate with the Wigwe family, the Ogunbanjo family, Access Bank Holding, the Nigeria Stock Exchange, friends and associates, and pray that God will grant all the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, posted on her X handle, “Terribly saddened by the news of the terrible loss of Herbert Wigwe, Group CEO of Access Bank, his wife and son, as well as Bimbo Ogunbanjo, in a helicopter crash.

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“My deepest sympathies and condolences to the Wigwe family, the Ogunbanjo family, Access Bank Group employees and management, and my younger brother, Herbert’s partner, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. May the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace.”

Furthermore, former lawmaker Senator Shehu Sani described the incident as a great loss, tweeting, “It was sad and heartbreaking; a great loss. May their souls rest in peace.”

Joseph Johnson, the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, described the occurrence as shocking.

“His (Wigwe’s) death is confirmed. It is a big loss to every sector, and not just himself, his wife, and his son. It is very painful,” he said.

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