Top Nigerian Banker Killed in Helicopter Crash in California

(Bloomberg) — A helicopter carrying six people, including the co-founder of Nigeria’s biggest bank by assets, crashed in a Southern California desert near the Mojave National Preserve, authorities said. Most Read from Bloomberg Herbert Wigwe, 57, co-founder of Access Bank, was among the victims, family members from his home village of Isiokpo said.

Abimbola Ogunbanjo, 61, who was president of the National Council of the Nigeria Stock Exchange from 2017 to 2021, and served as the group chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc from 2021 to 2022, was confirmed dead by a family member in Lagos. The Federal Aviation Administration said a Eurocopter EC helicopter crashed at about 10 p.m. on Friday with six people on board. The crash site was near the border with Nevada.

The craft was headed to Boulder City, Nevada, south of Las Vegas, local ABC affiliate KABC reported without saying where it got the information. “The scene of the crash was determined to be east of the 15-Freeway, near Halloran Springs Road,” the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department said in an emailed statement on Saturday. “No survivors have been located.” Wigwe started his professional career with Coopers & Lybrand Associates, an international firm of chartered accountants, before spending a decade at Guaranty Trust Bank.

In 2004 he co-engineered the acquisition of local lender Access Bank where he assumed the post of deputy managing director and eventually became chief executive officer in January 2014. He was building a new £500 million university outside the southern city of Port Harcourt to help students hone skills needed for the finance and technology industries in Africa’s most-populous nation, he told Bloomberg in an interview in November. Wigwe planned to teach and mentor students and also engage some of the country’s biggest entrepreneurs including billionaire Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, to teach at the university.

Story continues “To get the next set of leaders in banking, you need to create the right education for them,” Wigwe told Bloomberg from his office in the 14-story Access Bank headquarters overlooking a part of the Lagos lagoon. Ogunbanjo started his professional career as a banker with Chase Manhattan Bank Nigeria in 1985 before he re-qualified as a legal practitioner and joined the law firm of Chris Ogunbanjo & Co in 1990, where he held the position of managing partner until his death, according to a biography from his firm.

He joined the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 2011 and served in various capacities, including vice-president, according to his LinkedIn biography. Ogunbanjo was the former vice chairman of the Commercial Law and Taxation Committee of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and acted as special Nigerian counsel to the London and Paris clubs in connection with the refinancing and rescheduling agreements made between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and International Creditors Banks. (Adds biographical details starting in the seventh paragraph.)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

(C)2024 Bloomberg L.P.