27 years after Imo Spartans plane crash, need to improve Heartland FC



27 years after the plane crash of Iwuanyanwu Nationale football club (Imo Spartans), Chairman of the Imo Football Association, Mazi Amanze Uchegbulam has charged the Imo State Government to sustain the values of the team. 

Iwuanyanwu Nationale (now Heartland FC) of Owerri had  a plane crash in Tamaransett, Algeria aboard a private aircraft “BAC-111 of Oriental Airline” carrying players and crew. It is now managed by the Imo State Government on September 18th, 1994. 

Iwuanyanwu Nationale including ten officials crashed in Algeria. The team was on its way back home after African Cup of Champions (now CAF Champions League) match away to Esperance of Tunisia which the then Nigerian champions lost 3-0. Chief Christian Chukwu was part of the team. 

Uchegbulam, who was on the ill-fated flight expressed gratitude to God for preservation of his life and 34 others even as he prayed for the continued repose for the five people who died during the crash.

Uchegbulam said “Due to the high cost of fuel in Tunis, we flew to Algeria to refuel, on getting there the weather was bad, all the efforts of Cpt. Ogbonna to save the plane from crashing failed. Team Cpt, Onyemachara was wrongfully declared dead, but after few hours in morgue he jerked back to life. As we today mark 27 years remembrance of the departed Iwuanyanwu Nationale plane crash victims, may they keep resting in perfect peace”. 

Further he said “It is sheer grace that we are alive 27 years after to tell the story, am happy the survivors have gone ahead to contribute meaningfully in various human endeavours while some remained in football business, adding value and still raising the Nigerian flag”. 

Five people died and 35 cheated death. Those who died were two players, Uche Ikeogu (the goalkeeper), Aimwola Omale (Defender), and three cabin crew members, the Pilots, Cpt. Chukwuwenyi Amaechi, the co-pilot, Cpt. Chinedu Ogbonna and an air hostess, Miss. Obiageli Ezeh. 

The CAF/ FIFA Club Licensing Instructor explained that as a private citizen, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu managed the team well and even provided his plane to fly them. 

Already Heartland has gone into relegation twice in the last four years. 

The Imo Football boss maintained that welfare of staff and players were key for winnings noting that football is the singular game that unites Nigerians irrespective of religious and ethnic bias. 

He called on the Imo Government to institute a landmark in honour of Iwuanyanwu now he is still alive saying people should be celebrated alive and not posthumously. 






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