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Atiku, Okonjo-Iweala, Keyamo, others mourn Wigwe, Ogunbanjo, others

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Atiku, Okonjo-Iweala, Keyamo, others mourn Wigwe, Ogunbanjo, and others

Atiku, Okonjo-Iweala, Keyamo, others mourn Wigwe, Ogunbanjo, and others

Abimbola Ogunbanjo, former group chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group), is also believed to be among the passengers.

Many Nigerians expressed condolences to the family of Herbert Wigwe, Access Holdings Chief Executive Officer, who was involved in a helicopter crash in the United States late Friday.

Mr. Wigwe, his wife, and his son are believed to be among the six passengers in a helicopter that crashed in the US early Saturday Nigerian time (late Friday local time).

Abimbola Ogunbanjo, former group chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group), is also believed to be among the passengers.

The Eurocopter EC130 helicopter crashed around 10 p.m. local time near Nipton, Calif., an unincorporated community approximately 60 miles south of Las Vegas in eastern San Bernardino County, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Officials from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department were notified of the downed aircraft at 10:12 p.m. local time, according to Mara Rodriguez, a public information officer with the department. She added that the crash site was located east of Interstate 15, near Halloran Springs Road.

PREMIUM TIMES learned that the ill-fated Flight N130CZ, operated by Orbic Air LLC, took off from Palm Springs, California, at 8:45 p.m. but was last seen near Fort Irwin/Barstow, California, at 9:49 p.m. on Friday.

The cause of the crash of the Airbus Helicopter EC-130 remains unclear as of press time on Sunday morning.

The Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said in a message posted Saturday on her X handle that she feels deeply saddened by Mr. Wigwe’s passing.

“I am deeply saddened by the news of the terrible loss of Herbert Wigwe, Group CEO of 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 @myaccessbank, and my younger brother Herbert’s partner Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. May the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace,” she wrote.

The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last election and former vice president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, described the death of Mr. Wigwe as an unfortunate incident.

He also expressed condolences and sympathy to the families and loved ones of the deceased.

“In the words of one of Nigeria’s finest CEOs, Herbert Wigwe, ‘Today and always, let us remember that life is a precious gift—a chance to breathe, feel, love, experience, and connect. Let’s honour this gift by living with purpose, kindness, and gratitude, making every moment count. Let us number our days’.

“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. 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.”

Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, also paid tribute while describing Mr. Wigwe’s passing as a tragic loss of a friend.

“The reported tragic loss of my friend, brother, and not-far-away neighbour in Lagos, Herbert Wigwe, the co-founder of Access Bank, the CEO of Access Holdings, and the founder of Wigwe University, is very devastating.

“He was in my office earlier this week (where we took the pictures below) and actually left my office to fly out of the country and never came back. I am also shocked to learn his wife, son, and other friends were involved in this tragedy.

 

“We were on the verge of announcing something big for the aviation sector, which is why he actually came to the office with his entire team, both from Access and Wigwe University. This is surreal, and I am lost for words.

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“May Almighty God comfort his aged parents and siblings (who were also my neighbours in Lagos for many years as a very young lawyer in Anthony Village), his immediate family members, his staff, friends across Nigeria, and dependents,” he said.

A former Nigerian senator, Shehu Sani, in a statement posted on his X handle on Saturday, described the death of Mr. Wigwe as tragic and heartbreaking.

“The news of the deaths of Access Bank CEO Herbert Wigwe and five others in a helicopter crash is tragic, sad, and heartbreaking. A great loss. May their souls rest in peace,” he said.

Adamu Garba, an IT entrepreneur and Nigerian politician, said in his remarks that Mr. Wigwe’s energy, dedication to duty, and commitment to excellence are unceasing.

“The death of Herbert Wigwe, the CEO of AccessBank Plc, really, really touched me. I recall that in 2011, when Herbert was the COO of Access Bank, the IT department was under him. I was a professional IT consultant for an integration project at the bank.

“We migrated their mailboxes and merged them with those of Intercontinental Bank after the acquisition. I proceeded to deploy what is called Right Management Services RMS to protect their information flow. That was a requirement for their processes to comply with ISO 27001 certification. It was critical at that moment.

“During testing, Herbert will be the first to reply whenever we send a test mail, no matter how late. He will be the first to confirm if things work or don’t. I was not surprised in the least when he became the CEO afterwards.

“His energy, dedication to duty, and commitment to excellence are unceasing. May God, in his infinite mercy, bless his soul and that of his wife and son with an eternal resting place.”

Others
Ndubuisi Ekekwe, a professor and a United States-based innovator and tech entrepreneur, described Mr. Wigwe as one of Nigeria’s finest entrepreneurs and businessmen.

“Herbert Wigwe, one of Nigeria’s finest bankers and 2018 Tekedia Businessperson of the Year, has died. Bloomberg reports that he died in a helicopter crash in Southern California, along with other people, including some of his family members.

“As I wrote when I chose him as the businessperson of the year, “For that bravado and vision, knowing that in a digital banking future, marginal cost is everything and scale improves competitiveness, I have chosen Herbert Wigwe as my Businessperson of the Year.” Herbert had the uncommon capability to think big.

“Nigeria and indeed Africa mourn one of its finest entrepreneurs and businessmen. Our condolences to everyone affected by this tragedy, and we pray for strength to overcome.”

The Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Abdullahi, described Mr. Wigwe as a visionary leader whose passion extended beyond finance.

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Holdings Plc, who passed away tragically in a helicopter accident. A visionary leader, Herbert’s passion extended beyond finance; he was profoundly committed to supporting Nigerian youth.

“Through the HOW Foundation, he dedicated himself to empowering the next generation, and his efforts to establish Wigwe University showcase his unwavering belief in the transformative power of education.

“Herbert’s legacy of nurturing young minds and fostering educational opportunities will continue to inspire us. Our thoughts are with his loved ones during this time. Rest in peace, Herbert. Your impact will not be forgotten,” he said.

Asue Ighodalo, a Nigerian lawyer and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant for the forthcoming Edo gubernatorial election, also expressed grief over the demise of Mr. Wigwe.

Mr. Ighodalo, in a statement posted via his X handle on Saturday night, described Mr. Wigwe’s death as disturbing while expressing condolences and sympathy to the families and loved ones of the deceased.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my dear brother Herbert Wigwe, his wife and son, as well as my dear brother Abimbola Ogunbanjo and two others in this most unfortunate helicopter crash near California.

“Words fail to express the grief my family and I feel in the face of this most disturbing news. As we face the very difficult days to follow this extremely distressing development, I most humbly call for prayers for the Wigwe and Ogunbanjo families as well as all of us who are distraught by this harrowing event.

“My deepest condolences,” Mr. Ighodalo wrote.

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Wigwe: Family releases burial rights, excludes RCCG City of David

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Wigwe: Family releases burial rights, excludes RCCG City of David

Wigwe: Family releases burial rights, excludes RCCG City of David

The City of David Parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Lagos will not play any official role in the funeral service of the late Herbert Wigwe, former Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of Access Holdings Plc.

Wigwe, who died on board a chopper in the US some weeks ago, was a member of the parish.

The late banker died alongside his wife, Chizoba; son, Chizi; and a former Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group), Abimbola Ogunbanjo.

After his death, the wife of the parish pastor, Dr. Siju Iluyomade, held a lavish birthday that left tongues wagging.

Distinguished personalities rejoiced with the pastor’s wife at the party, which took place at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Some people expressed displeasure that Iluyomade held such a party weeks after the tragic deaths of a prominent member of the church.

According to the programme, a funeral for the Wigwes will commence with a tribute to Herbert Wigwe’s professional legacy at the Eko Hotel in Lagos on March 4.

Separate ceremonies to honor Chizi and Chizoba are scheduled for March 5 at the Eko Hotel in Lagos, followed by a night of tributes on March 6 at the same venue.

On March 7, a combined service of songs will take place at the RCCG, Resurrection Parish, Lekki, followed by a Christian wake-keeping at Wigwe University, Isiokpo, Ikwerre LGA, Rivers.

On March 9, the funeral and private interment service for the family will be held.

The final service will be an outing ceremony at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Lion of Judah Parish, Isiokpo, Ikwerre LGA, Rivers, on March 10.

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Uncovering the $26 Billion Cryptocurrency Mystery: Central Bank of Nigeria’s Stance on Binance

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Uncovering the $26 Billion Cryptocurrency Mystery: Central Bank of Nigeria's Stance on Binance

Uncovering the $26 Billion Cryptocurrency Mystery: Central Bank of Nigeria’s Stance on Binance

In a recent revelation that has sent shockwaves through the financial landscape of Nigeria, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Olayemi Cardoso, disclosed that an astonishing $26 billion had been funneled through Binance Nigeria by unidentified sources over the course of one year. This bombshell revelation sheds light on the shadowy world of cryptocurrency exchanges and raises serious concerns about illicit financial activities taking place within the country.

Binance, a popular online platform for trading cryptocurrencies, has come under scrutiny in multiple jurisdictions around the globe for its alleged violations of regulatory guidelines and its disruptive impact on traditional currency markets. Countries such as the UK, Japan, Canada, and Singapore have raised red flags over Binance’s operations, with the United States imposing a hefty $4.3 billion fine on the platform for breaching anti-money laundering and sanctions laws, prompting the resignation of its CEO, Changpeng Zhao.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Nigeria declared the operations of Binance Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Binance, as illegal in June 2023, adding fuel to the fire of regulatory concerns surrounding the cryptocurrency exchange.

During a press briefing following the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting at the CBN headquarters in Abuja, Cardoso emphasized the central bank’s commitment to implementing stringent regulations to fortify the economy, including cracking down on crypto exchanges like Binance. He underscored the collaborative efforts between the CBN and the SEC to prevent market manipulation and safeguard the integrity of the foreign exchange (FX) market.

Cardoso expressed apprehension over suspicious financial flows passing through entities like Binance, hinting at potential illicit activities that could jeopardize the stability of Nigeria’s financial ecosystem. The staggering figure of $26 billion moving through Binance from unidentifiable sources and users within Nigeria has raised alarm bells and prompted a coordinated investigation involving law enforcement agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the police, and the National Security Adviser’s office.

The governor reiterated the CBN’s unwavering resolve to combat financial infractions and prevent market distortions that could adversely impact Nigerian citizens. He affirmed the central bank’s determination to assert control over the financial markets and thwart any attempts at market manipulation that could undermine the country’s economic well-being.

As the investigation unfolds and more information surfaces, the collaborative efforts of regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies are poised to shed light on the opaque practices within the cryptocurrency industry and ensure accountability for any wrongdoing. The CBN’s proactive stance signals a strong commitment to upholding financial integrity and safeguarding the interests of all Nigerians in the face of the evolving challenges posed by the digital economy.

In conclusion, the $26 billion cryptocurrency mystery surrounding Binance Nigeria serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for robust regulatory oversight and vigilance in the fast-paced world of digital finance. The CBN’s vigilance and determination to root out illicit financial activities underscore the critical importance of transparency, accountability, and regulatory compliance in safeguarding the stability and prosperity of Nigeria’s financial system.

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NCC reaffirms February 28 deadline for SIM-NIN linkage

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NCC reaffirms February 28 deadline for SIM-NIN linkage

NCC reaffirms February 28 deadline for SIM-NIN linkage

The deadline for blocking telephone lines without National Identity Numbers (NINs) remains February 28, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has affirmed.

This was disclosed by Reuben Mouka, director of public affairs at NCC, on Monday. This is a follow-up to its April 2022 directive, when the commission directed telcos to restrict outgoing calls on SIMs that have not submitted their NINs.

Reaffirming the NCC’s stance, Mouka said, “I am unaware of any extension and certain there won’t be. I don’t know what to say, but the fact is that there is no change in that deadline. The deadline, which is February 28, stands.”

Meanwhile, the Federal High Court in Lagos has restrained telecom operators from deactivating or barring any line or SIM not linked to their NINs.

According to Channels TV, Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa restrained the telcos while ruling on an application filed by a Lagos-based lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje.

In April 2022, Ogungbeje filed a suit against MTN when his SIMs were barred, and the court, at the time, dismissed his suit for lack of merit. He filed an appeal, which is currently pending at the court of appeal.

Ogungbeje had sued the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation, the Minister of Justice, MTN Nigeria Communications Plc and Airtel Networks Nigeria Limited.

Ogungbeje has now asked the court for an injunction pending appeal, restraining all the respondents (the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation, and the Minister of Justice; MTN Nigeria Communications Plc; and Airtel Networks Nigeria Limited) from further outright barring, deactivating, or restricting any SIM cards or phone lines on Feb. 28, 2024, or any other scheduled date, pending the hearing and determination of his appeal at the Court of Appeal of Nigeria.

Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa granted the lawyer’s request and restrained the telcos. The Justice also ruled that his order subsists until the hearing and determination of the appeal filed by the lawyer.

In a December 2023 notice, the NCC asked telcos to bar SIMs that have not submitted their NINs by February 28, 2024; bar those whose NINs have been submitted but not verified by March 29, 2024; and bar those who have less than five lines linked to an unverified NIN by April 15, 2024.

It was noted that all affected subscribers must be verified (biometrics and biodata) before their lines get unbarred. As these deadlines loom, telecom subscribers have asked the Federal Government for an extension, especially for the first one.

Adeolu Ogunbanjo, the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, disclosed to BusinessDay on Monday that a one-month extension will ensure more people can get their NINs and link their SIMs before the deadline.

“We want them to extend the deadline to March 31. There are still queues at NIMC centres. These centres are trying, but they can’t attend to everyone,” he said.

The NCC’s directive to restrict outgoing calls in April 2022 affected over 72.77 million active mobile subscriptions. About 125 million lines had been linked to a NIN at that time. Since then, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has not updated the number of SIMs linked to a NIN.

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