18 April 2008
Free Nigerian prisoner
Patrick Okoroafor in prisonPatrick Okoroafor was just 14 years old when he was arrested in May 1995. Two years later, he was sentenced to death for robbery, along with six others. He did not have the right to appeal and was reported to have been tortured while in police detention.

In 2001, his sentence of death was pronounced “illegal, null and void”, but he was never released. He remains locked up "during the pleasure of the Governor of Imo State" (at the discretion of the Imo State Governor) - effectively in indefinite detention - in Aba prison, Abia state, having spent almost half his life in detention.

“Patrick only went to the police station because the police wanted to inspect a car our mother had bought from one of the other suspects. That is when they arrested him. We tried to get him released, but the police refused,” says his brother. He claims Patrick was tortured by the Nigerian police, who beat him and pulled out his teeth with pliers.

nigeria-patyoung-200x250.jpg Along with one of the six other co-defendants, Chidiebere Onuoha, who was 15 at the time of arrest, Patrick petitioned for clemency on grounds of age. On 18 July 1997, Patrick's sentence was commuted to life imprisonment but Chidiebere Onuoha and the five other men were publicly executed.

Prison has also had serious consequences for Patrick's health; he suffers from asthma attacks described by prison authorities as "frequent and life-threatening" and his condition "worsens daily".

In November 2001, Patrick pleaded for pardon, writing: "The tribunal ritual was a nightmare to me because I’m totally innocent of the charges levelled against me, I have spent these years of undeserved incarceration crying, praying and reading…” His plea was rejected by the Imo State Governor in March 2002.

Take ActionAmnesty International, along with the Nigerian Bar Association and Nigerian NGOs, has called for his release.
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Please free Patrick Okoroafor

Your Excellency,
I am writing to you to ask for the release of Patrick Obinna Okoroafor,currently imprisoned in Aba prison, Abia State, despite his sentence being declared illegal and null by the High Court of Imo State six years ago.
Patrick Okoroafor (also known as Patrick Okorafor) is the victim of a grave case of miscarriage of justice. He was arrested at 14 in 1995 and sentenced to death at 16, contrary to Nigerian law and international standards which state that children should not be sentenced to death.
He did not have the right to appeal his sentence, a right guaranteed by the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. He has said that while in custody, the police hang him and beat him and pulled his teeth out with pliers. The conditions of his long detention had serious consequences for his health. He suffers from acute asthma attacks described by prison authorities as "frequent and life-threatening".
On 18 October 2001, the High Court of Imo State ruled that his sentence should be removed for being "illegal, void and null". However, rather than releasing him, the judge decided that Patrick Okoroafor should be detained "during the pleasure of the governor of Imo State". This means that it is within your discretion, as Governor of Imo State, whether and when to release him. Patrick is in effect kept in indefinite detention and he is still in prison today. Patrick Okoroafor, who at 27 has spent almost half of his life in prison, has always claimed he is innocent.
The case of Patrick Okoroafor is only one example of the serious deficiencies of the Nigerian justice system. There are approximately 200 inmates in other Nigerian prisons sentenced to death before 1999 who did not have a right to appeal.
You have said that "the New Face of Imo State preaches transparency, accountability, rule of law and respect for human rights." I appeal to you to uphold these principles in a demonstration of your commitment to justice in Imo State by ending the indefinite and arbitrary detention of Patrick Okoroafor.
Please free Patrick Okoroafor.

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October 14, 2011

Mr. Patrick okoroafor must be freed by Nigerion government without any delay.
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