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Africa mourns twin tragedy of banking and sporting giants

Publish date: 12 February 2024
Issue Number: 1063
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: General

The co-founder of Nigeria's biggest bank has died in a helicopter crash in the US along with his wife and son. Access Bank Group CEO Herbert Wigwe was killed when the aircraft crashed in California on Friday. And Kenya is reeling from the news that current marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum and his coach Gervais Hakizimana died in a road accident on Sunday night outside the Rift Valley town of Eldoret. Legalbrief reports that Wigwe’s company said ‘the entire Access family mourned the loss of Herbert, Doreen and Chizi’. US authorities said two crew members and four passengers were killed in the crash. Fin24 reports that the head of the World Trade Organisation said former Nigeria Stock Exchange president Abimbola Ogunbanjo was among the dead. ‘A Eurocopter EC 130 helicopter crashed near Nipton, California, around 10pm local time on Friday, 9 February. Six people were on board,’ the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said without naming the victims. The FAA said there would be an investigation. Nigeria's Aviation Minister Festus Keyamo said the news was ‘devastating’. Access is Nigeria's biggest bank by assets, according to Bloomberg. The bank praised Wigwe, who became deputy managing director in 2002, as a ‘key driving force and a larger-than-life personality who brought his remarkable passion, energy and experience to the transformation of the Access franchise’.

Full Fin24 report

Herbert Wigwe profile

The 24-year-old Kenyan athlete, who was driving a Toyota Premio, and his coach died at the scene of the crash. Police spokesperson Peter Mulinge told CNN that a third occupant survived with serious injuries. Kiptum’s world record marathon time of 2:00:35 set in the Chicago Marathon in October last year was ratified just days ago by World Athletics. He had only switched to running the marathon from shorter distance races a year before setting that record pace. Hakizimana (36) was a former professional athlete from Rwanda who participated in different races from the 5 000m to the half marathon. Figures across the world of athletics and long distance running offered tributes and lamented the loss of such an athlete at his prime. World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said Kiptum was ‘an incredible athlete, leaving an incredible legacy ... we will miss him dearly’. Kenya’s former Prime Minister was also among those paying respects. Writing on X, Raila Odinga described the deaths as ‘devastating news’ and praised Kiptum as a Kenyan athletics icon. ‘Our nation grieves the profound loss of a true hero,’ he noted.

Full CNN report

Kelvin Kiptum profile

Meanwhile, a number of leaders and former Presidents have travelled to Namibia to honour the late President Hein Geingob who died a week ago. SA's President Ramaphosa and Geingob enjoyed a close relationship. Ramaphosa had expressed his condolences to Geingob’s family and the interim President Nangolo Mbumba. SABC News reports that Mbumba has announced that Geingob’s funeral will be held in Windhoek on 24 February. Geingob died at the age of 87. He had been in hospital receiving treatment for cancer. He served as the country’s first Prime Minister after Nambia’s independence from apartheid South Africa in 1990. Mbumba said the country was still mourning. Last April, Ramaphosa hosted Geingob to state visit, and in October, he and Geingob co-chaired the 3rd session of the South Africa-Namibia binational commission. First elected President in 2014, Geingob was Namibia’s longest serving Prime Minister and third President.

Full SABC News report

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