Nigerian bank chief killed in Mojave Desert helicopter crash in California: ‘Irreparable loss’

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Herbert Wigwe, CEO of a major bank in Nigeria, was among the six people killed in a helicopter crash Friday night in California’s Mojave Desert, authorities say.

The death of Wigwe, who headed Access Bank Group, was confirmed by Nigerian officials on social media, including World Trade Organization Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Abimbola Ogunbanjo, the former Chairman of the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce, was also killed in the accident. A Nigerian politician, Godwin Obaseki, said Wigwe’s wife and son were also among those behind.


The accident happened around 10pm local time on Friday near Nipton, California, which is not far from the California-Nevada border.

Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe speaking with a microphone in hand

Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe speaks on stage at Global Citizen Live, Lagos on September 18, 2021, in Lagos, Nigeria. (Andrew Esiebo/Getty Images for Global Citizen/File)

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

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

“The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will conduct an investigation,” the FAA told Fox News Digital. “The NTSB will lead the investigation and provide any updates.”

5 DEADLY killed in California helicopter crash identified

Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe poses on a red carpet

Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe attends Global Citizen Live, Lagos on September 18, 2021, in Lagos, Nigeria. (Andrew Esiebo/Getty Images for Global Citizen/File)

In a statement, Obaseki, who is the Governor of Edo State, said he is “deeply shocked and devastated” by the death of Wigwe on X Saturday.

“This tragic incident is painful and heartbreaking, and we pray for God’s continued comfort during this difficult time,” Obaseki wrote.

“Wigwe was huge in Nigeria’s financial sector, leading Access Bank to become an international brand that put Nigeria on the global map of world-class financial services,” he said. My condolences to the Wigwe family, the Ogunbanjo family, Access Bank Holding, Nigeria Stock Exchange, friends and associates, and I pray that God will give all the strength to bear the irreparable loss.”

Mojave Desert at dusk

Dusk settles over the Mojave Desert, about 10 miles north of Nipton, Calif. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images/File)

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Fox News Digital reached out to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and Access Bank Group, but did not hear back.

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