A 31-year old Nigerian, who was sentenced to death as a juvenile has expressed his happiness at being released from prison and reunited with his family after such a very long time.
Patrick Okoroafor regained his freedom following a relentless global campaign by Amnesty International.
Okoroafor was just 14 when he was arrested in 1995 and 16 when sentenced to death for armed robbery, a crime which he claimed innocence.
Amnesty International considers Okoroafor’s trial to have been grossly unfair and has repeatedly called for his immediate and unconditional release.
Authorities in Imo State commuted his sentence to life imprisonment months after the original death sentence was imposed.
In October 2001, a High Court judgment pronounced the death sentence on him to be unlawful, null and void and changed his sentence to detention “during the pleasure of the governor” – indefinite detention.
In 2009, one year after Amnesty International launched its campaign to release Okoroafor; his sentence was reduced to ten years. The following year it was reduced again to two years. He was finally released on April 30, 2012.
Okoroafor featured regularly in Amnesty’s global solidarity letter-writing campaign and has received more than 10,000 cards and letters.