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Nigerian bank boss killed in California helicopter crash

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The chief executive of one of Nigeria’s largest banks was reportedly killed along with his wife and son when a helicopter they were on crashed in Southern California’s Mojave Desert.

Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Bank, and his family were among six people on board when the charter flight crashed shortly after 10 p.m. Friday near Interstate 15 near the California-US border. Nevada.

The others killed were two pilots and a fourth passenger, named Bamofin Abimbola Ogunbanjo, former chairman of the NGX group, the Nigerian stock exchange.

The deaths of Mr. Wigwe, his family and Mr. Ogunbanjo were confirmed by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former finance minister and now director-general of the World Trade Organization.

“Terribly saddened by the news of the terrible loss of Herbert Wigwe… his wife and son and Bimbo Ogunbanjo in a helicopter crash,” Mr Okonjo-Iweala wrote in a message on X. “May the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace.”

“A terrible blow” for the banking sector in Nigeria and Africa

Mr Wigwe, 57, was widely regarded as an industry leader, having been involved with 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 the African banking sector, Nigerian presidential spokesperson Bayo Onanuga wrote on X. “Wigwe had a big vision: to make Access Holdings (the parent company ) the largest in Africa, with an unquenchable thirst for acquisitions.” “

“It’s surreal”

Mr. Wigwe’s interests also extend to the education sector. His private university, founded in the oil-rich Niger Delta region where he is from, is expected to open in September. Last year, he said college was “an opportunity for me to give back to society.”

“It’s surreal and I’m at a loss for words,” Festus Keyamo, Nigeria’s minister of aviation and aerospace development, wrote on X.

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The plane, an Airbus EC-130, left the Palm Springs Airport around 8:45 p.m. Friday and was headed to Boulder City, Nevada, according to reports.

Boulder City is about 25 miles southeast of Las Vegas, where the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers are scheduled to play in Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday.

In this still from National Transportation Safety Board video, Michael Graham of the NTSB, who is investigating a fatal helicopter crash in Southern California's Mojave Desert, speaks to the media in Barstow, Calif. on Saturday February 1st.  10, 2024. The CEO of one of Nigeria's biggest banks, along with his wife and son were among those killed in Friday's crash.  (National Transportation Safety Board via AP)
Picture:
Michael Graham of the National Transportation Safety Board

Michael Graham of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash, said witnesses reported it was raining with a “winter mix” at the time of the crash.

People also reported a fire in the helicopter as well as downed power lines.

The accident came three days after a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter crashed in the mountains outside San Diego during historic downpours, killing five Marines.

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