Patrick was 14 years old when he was arrested in Imo state, Nigeria, in 1995, and charged with robbery and kidnapping, a crime he has always said he did not commit. The police later charged him and six others with robbery.
Condemned to death at the age of 16 after an unfair trial, the young Nigerian has now spent half his lifetime in prison. He had gone along in response to a routine matter which the police wanted clarification on.
Later six other were handed a death sentence and shot. Patrick’s sentence was commuted to a life imprisonment. He has had no representation and the military tribunal which tried him was held to be illegal, by the African Commission, as he was a minor.
His brother, Henry, told Amnesty: “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.”
He has served nearly 17 years of his sentence. At present he is in a cell with 64 other people in very rudimentary conditions. No sanitation and very little bedding or mosquito nets.
Okoroafor’s sentence was then amended to “indefinite detention”. This goes against international human rights standards. After an international campaign, his sentence was reduced to 10 years in 2009 and then to two years in December 2010. Neither commutation took into account the 15 years he had already spent in prison.
Patrick Okoroafor’s long stay in prison has affected his health and he now suffers from severe asthma. To send a letter to the governor of Imo state calling for Okoroafor’s immediate release, visit the Amnesty UK website.