Bank CEO and His Family Killed in Mojave Desert Helicopter Crash

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The CEO of one of Nigeria’s largest banks was killed Friday night along with his wife and son when a helicopter they were riding in crashed near Interstate 15 in Southern California’s Mojave Desert.

Herbert Wigwe, chief executive of Access Bank, was among four passengers and two pilots on board when the aircraft went down shortly after 10 p.m. All six were killed, including Bamofin Abimbola Ogunbanjo, former chair of NGX Group, the Nigerian stock exchange.

The deaths of Wigwe, his family and Ogunbanjo were confirmed Saturday by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former Nigerian finance minister who is now the director-general of the World Trade Organization.

“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,” Okonjo-Iweala wrote in a post on X. “May the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace.”

The death of Wigwe, 57, shocked many in Nigeria and in the banking sector. He 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.

Under Wigwe’s leadership, Access Bank’s assets and presence grew beyond borders in several African countries.

His death is “a terrible blow” for Nigeria and Africa’s banking industry, Nigerian presidential spokesman Bayo Onanuga wrote in a post on X. “Wigwe had a big vision to make Access Holdings (the parent company) Africa’s biggest, with all the unquenchable thirst for acquisitions.”

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