US Helicopter Crash: Atiku, Okonjo-Iweala, Obaseki, Others Mourn Access Holdings CEO, Wigwe, Wife, Son


BY OUR CORRESPONDENTS – Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Director-General of World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, are among prominent Nigerians who have continued to express shock over the tragic death of the Access Holdings Plc boss Herbert Wigwe, and his family members.

In a tweet on his X handle (formerly Twitter) on Saturday night, Atiku described the incident as unfortunate as he wrote, “I’m deeply saddened to hear about the unfortunate incident that led to the loss of Herbert Wigwe, Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc, and his family.”

“Indeed, Herbert Wigwe, consummate banker, education promoter, and philanthropist, numbered his days”, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the February 2023 presidential election said, adding; “On behalf of my family, my heart goes out to their loved ones and everyone affected by this unfortunate incident. May their souls rest in peace.”

In her reaction, the Director-General of World Trade Organisation, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, wrote on her X handle @NOIweala thus; “Terribly saddened by the news of the terrible loss of Herbert Wigwe, Group CEO Access Bank, his wife and son as well as Bimbo Ogunbanjo in a helicopter crash.

“My deepest sympathies and condolences to the Wigwe family, the Ogunbanjo family, Access Bank Group employees, and Management, and my younger brother, Herbert’s partner, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. May the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace.”

Also reacting to the unfortunate passage of Wigwe, his wife and son in the unfortunate crash, Governor Obaseki, said his death “has left me extremely shocked and devastated.”

In a personal statement on the tragic incident, the governor said; “We also unfortunately lost Wigwe’s wife and son, as well as the former Group Chairman of the Nigeria Stock Exchange, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, in the crash.

“The tragic incident is painful and heart-wrenching, and we pray for God’s abiding comfort in this profoundly difficult time. 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.

“I commiserate with the Wigwe family, the Ogunbanjo family, Access Bank Holding, the Nigeria Stock Exchange, friends, and associates, and pray that God will grant all the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”

Similarly, former lawmaker and social critic, Senator Shehu Sani, who described the incident as a great loss, said in his tweet; “It is sad and heartbreaking; a great loss. May their souls rest in peace.”

Also conveying his shock at the unfortunate incident, a House of Representatives member representing Egbeda/Ona Ara federal constituency in Oyo State, Akin Alabi, described the incident as a national tragedy and heartbreaking.

For the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Joseph Johnson, who described the incident as shocking, “It is a big loss to every sector, and not just himself, with his wife and son. It is very painful”.

Herbert Wigwe, who was the Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc, died following the crash of a helicopter conveying him and five others on Friday night near the California-Nevada border in the United States of America.

Several media reports also listed others involved in the fatal crash as Wigwe’s wife, Chizoba; his son, and the former Group Chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, Abimbola Ogunbanjo. Three other yet-to-be-identified crew members also died in the crash.

Confirming the crash on their website, the US Federal Aviation Administration said; “A Eurocopter EC 130 helicopter crashed near Nipton, California, around 10 pm local time on Friday, February 9. Six people were on board. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide any updates.”

Meanwhile, reports by NBC Los Angeles indicated that the crashed helicopter was registered to a Burbank-based tour company, Orbic Air. However, an official statement was still being awaited from the tour firm as of press time.

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