By Nume Ekeghe
Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings, Herbert Wigwe, his wife Chizoba, his son, and a former President of Nigeria Exchange Group, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, are feared dead in the Helicopter crash that occurred in California, United States on Friday, THISDAY has learnt.
A search and recovery operation is underway.
Earlier reports quoting Federal Aviation Administration said a helicopter crashed Friday night near Nipton, California, with six people on board.
The FAA identified the helicopter as a Eurocopter EC 130. Identities of those on board have however not been released.
The report which also quoted a statement from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, said as of Saturday morning, no survivors had been found.
“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-Freeway, near Halloran Springs Road,” the sheriff’s department said.
THISDAY gathered that the aircraft conveying Wigwe had landed in Palm Springs, California airport due to weather conditions, before he and the five others boarded a helicopter to Las Vegas at 10pm ( 7am Nigerian Time).
The chopper crashed near a border city between Nevada and California on Friday night.
Official confirmation by the authorities is still being awaited from National Safety Transportation officials currently expected at the crash site with family members.
Access Holdings has yet to officially confirm the incident.
Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe born on 15 August 1966 is a top Nigerian banker, entrepreneur, and Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings..
Wigwe began his illustrious career at Coopers & Lybrand, Lagos, where he honed his skills as a management consultant before becoming a qualified chartered accountant. His journey in the banking sector took flight with stints at Capital Bank and GTBank, where he rose to prominence as the executive director in charge of institutional banking.
In 2002, Wigwe, alongside his business partner, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, made a pivotal move by acquiring shares in Access Bank, then a modest commercial bank ranked 65th among Nigeria’s financial institutions. Their visionary leadership transformed Access Bank into one of the country’s top five banks and propelled it onto the global stage, earning accolades and recognition from industry peers.
Throughout his career, Wigwe held various leadership positions, including Chairman of Access Bank Ghana Limited and Access Investment & Securities Limited. He also served as the Chairman of Central Securities and Clearing System (CSCS) and Access Bank (UK) Limited.
Additionally, he contributed his expertise as a board member of the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company and as a member of the advisory board for Friends Africa.
Herbert’s academic credentials include a degree in accountancy from the University of Nigeria, an MA in Banking and Finance from the University College of North Wales (now Bangor), and an MSc in Financial Economics from the University of London. He also completed the Harvard Business School Executive Management Program, further enhancing his strategic acumen and leadership capabilities.
Wigwe recently founded Wigwe University, aimed to be Africa’s inaugural Ivy League institution, with plans for its commencement in September 2024.