The chief executive of one of Nigeria’s largest banks is believed to have been killed along with his wife and son when a helicopter they were riding in crashed in Southern California’s Mojave Desert.
Herbert Wigwe, chief executive of Access Bank, and his family were among six people on board when the charter flight went down shortly after 10pm on Friday near Interstate 15, close to the California-Nevada border.
The others killed were two pilots and a fourth passenger, named as Bamofin Abimbola Ogunbanjo, former chair of NGX Group, the Nigerian stock exchange.
The deaths of Mr Wigwe, his family and Mr Ogunbanjo were confirmed by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former Nigerian finance minister who is now the director-general of the World Trade Organisation.
“Terribly saddened by the news of the terrible loss of Herbert Wigwe… his wife and son as well as Bimbo Ogunbanjo in a helicopter crash,” Mr Okonjo-Iweala wrote in a post on X. “May the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace.”
‘A terrible blow’ for Nigeria and Africa’s banking industry
Mr Wigwe, 57, was widely seen as an industry leader, having been involved in two of the country’s biggest banks, including Guaranty Trust Bank, where he was previously executive director.
His death is “a terrible blow” for Nigeria and Africa’s banking industry, Nigerian presidential spokesman Bayo Onanuga wrote on X. “Wigwe had a big vision to make Access Holdings (the parent company) Africa’s biggest, with all the unquenchable thirst for acquisitions.”
‘This is surreal’
Mr Wigwe’s interests also spanned the education sector. His private university, founded in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta region where he was from, is due to open in September. Last year he said the university was “an opportunity for me to give back to society”.
“This is surreal and I am lost for words,” Festus Keyamo, Nigeria’s minister of aviation and aerospace development, wrote on X.