HomeViews and ReviewsHerbert Wigwe (1966-2004): Their Access Bank, The Ant That Swallowed An Elephant

Herbert Wigwe (1966-2004): Their Access Bank, The Ant That Swallowed An Elephant

May Herbert’s soul rest in peace.

I however look at the story of Access Bank from another prism based on my inside knowledge of what happened. The story of Access Bank can’t be complete without looking at its foundation. The money to buy Access Bank didn’t come from any investors but a loan of about N16 billion from Intercontinental Bank (IB) managed by Erastus Akingbola.


It was Akingbola that gave them that break to buy Access.

Who knows if the money was ever paid back?

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (Aig’s schoolmate at King’s College) as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor declared IB insolvent and put it up for sale. It was offered to Aig and Access Bank for N50 billion.

This was a bank that was many times the size of Access Bank. A bank with 350 branches offered for such a ridiculous sum. To put it in the words of a friend and ex-IB staffer, “The acquisition looked like an ant swallowing an elephant.”

Check the records, no other bank has been so cheaply sold in Nigeria.


Access Bank didn’t have the money but word on the streets was that Evelyn Oputu of Bank of Industry (BOI), who is Aig’s mother-in-law gave them the loan to buy IB. They paid the funds, took over the bank, and then refunded the loan the next day.

It is still regarded as the biggest scam in Nigeria banking history.

I want to be clear that this is not talking evil of the dead but setting the records straight. I do not hold the Access scam against Herbert personally but I can’t keep quiet when records are being misrepresented.


Akingbola was destroyed.

But all said and done, to what purpose is our rat race and wealth acquisition?

May the souls of Herbert, his family, and others in this accident rest in peace!


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