Herbert Wigwe, the CEO of a major Nigerian bank, died in a helicopter crash Friday night in the remote Mojave desert near the California-Nevada border.

Altogether, six people perished in the crash.

In addition to Wigwe, the Access Bank CEO’s wife and son died in the incident.

Abimola Ogunbanjo, the former group chairman of Nigeria’s stock exchange, also passed away.

“Terribly saddened by the news of the terrible loss of Herbert Wigwe, Group CEO Access Bank @HerbertOWigwe, his wife and son as well as Bimbo Ogunbanjo in a helicopter crash. My deepest sympathies and condolences to the Wigwe family, the Ogunbanjo family, Access Bank Group employees and Management @myaccessbank and my younger Brother Herbert’s partner Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. May the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace,” World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said.

Fox News reports:

The crash happened at around 10 p.m. local time Friday near Nipton, California, which is not far from the California-Nevada border.

The helicopter left Palm Springs Airport at around 8:45 p.m. and was on its way to Boulder City, Nevada, which is near Las Vegas. At the time of the crash, rainy and snowy weather was reported in the area.

Multiple American agencies are investigating the crash, including San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, the NTSB and the FAA.

“The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate,” the FAA said to Fox News Digital. “The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide any updates.”

In a statement, Obaseki, who is Governor of the Edo State, said that he is “extremely shocked and devastated” over Wigwe’s death on X Saturday.

Godwin Obaseki, a Nigerian politician and businessman who is currently the Governor of Edo State, writes:

We also unfortunately lost Wigwe’s wife and son as well as the former group chairman of 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.

From The Guardian:

CNN reported that investigators planned to return to the crash site on Sunday to document using a drone. Witnesses reported that the helicopter caught fire after crashing. And weather conditions at the time of the crash including rain and a wintry mix.

“I am shocked and deeply distressed by the news of the passing of Mr Herbert Wigwe, a distinguished banker, humanitarian, and entrepreneur, and Mr Abimbola Ogunbanjo, the former group chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group … along with members of the Wigwe family – Herbert’s wife, [Doreen] Chizoba, and son, Chizi,” Nigeria’s president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, said in a statement. “Their passing is an overwhelming tragedy that is shocking beyond comprehension. I extend my condolences to the Wigwe and Ogunbanjo families, the business community, and all those impacted by this harrowing incident.”

According to Access Bank’s website, Wigwe became managing director and chief executive in 2014 after first working for the bank in 2002. Access Bank is the largest bank in Nigeria.

“Today and always, let us remember that life is a precious gift – a chance to breathe, feel, love, experience and connect,” Wigwe wrote in a post on X in January 2024. “Let’s honor this gift by living with purpose, kindness, and gratitude, making every moment count. Let us number our days.”

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