Who was Herbert Wigwe? Family, net worth, & all you need to know as Nigerian bank CEO killed in California helicopter crash

Access Bank Group CEO Herbert Wigwe passed away in a tragic helicopter crash (Image via Instagram/@herbertowigwe)
Access Bank Group CEO Herbert Wigwe died in a tragic helicopter crash (Image via Instagram/@herbertowigwe)

Tragedy struck on Friday, December 9, when Herbert Wigwe, the CEO of Access Holdings lost his life in a fatal helicopter crash that occurred in the Mojave Desert in California. Wigwe was reportedly heading to Las Vegas to attend the Super Bowl on Sunday when the incident took place, as per Sahara Reporters. Former Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, also died in the crash.

Fox News reported that according to Nigeria's Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, Wigwe's wife, Chizoba Wigwe also lost her life in the incident along with one of the couple's sons, whose identity is yet to be confirmed. According to the Osun Defender, Wigwe had an estimated net worth of $65.2 million.


Herbert Wigwe amassed a fortune worth around $65.2 million

According to a National Transportation Safety Board press conference, Herbert Wigwe, his wife and son, along with former Nigerian Exchange Group chairman, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, and two crew members died in Friday's helicopter crash. The chopper reportedly went down at around 10 pm local time close to Nipton, near the California-Nevada border in the Mojave Desert.

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The NTSB stated that there was a report about a fire outbreak when the chopper crashed. At the time, the area reported snowy and rainy weather. Nigerian politician and the governor of the country's Edo state, Godwin Obaseki, said in a tweet that the crash left him "devastated."

"The tragic incident is painful and heart-wrenching, and we pray for God's abiding comfort in this profoundly difficult time," he said.

Herbert Wigwe was married to Chizoba Wigwe, who according to the Osun Defender, was an entrepreneur and a lawyer. The couple had four children, Chizi, Tochi, Hannah, and David. In an interview with The Punch back in 2019, Wigwe revealed that he met Chizoba at a National Youth Service Corps program in his home country and married her just four months after their first interaction.

Herbert Wigwe's death left a gaping hole in not only the Nigerian banking industry but also the banking sector in the entire continent of Africa. Wigwe was labeled by the Osun Defender as one of the wealthiest bankers in the entire continent, amassing a fortune worth about $65.2 million.

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Starting with a degree in Accountancy in 1987 from the University of Nigeria, Herbert Wigwe accumulated a plethora of distinctions from around the world. In 1989 he received a master’s degree in Banking and Finance from the University College of North Wales and later completed his master's degree in Financial Economics in 1990 from the University of London.

In 2006 Wigwe also attended the prestigious Harvard Business School Executive Management Program.

Herbert Wigwe's professional career began at Coopers & Lybrand Associates, a firm for Chartered Accountants. He then spent over a decade at Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, and became the Executive Director.

After leaving Guaranty Trust he became the Deputy Managing Director of Access Bank Plc in 2002 after purchasing the bank alongside his partner, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. After climbing through the ranks and making the company one of the top banking institutions in Nigeria and Africa, he was appointed as the CEO and Group Managing Director of Access Holdings in 2014.

Godwin Obaseki said in his tweet:

"Wigwe was a colossus in Nigeria's financial sector, leading Access Bank to become an international brand that placed Nigeria on the global map of first-class financial services."

Access Bank also shared a tweet and wrote:

"Today, we bid farewell to a visionary leader, @HerbertOWigwe, whose passion and unwavering commitment to excellence transformed Access into a global powerhouse."

Fox News confirmed that the helicopter crash is currently being investigated by the NTSB, FAA, and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

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Edited by Adelle Fernandes