Ogbonna Casmir, Enugu
The centenarian and Nigeria’s oldest prisoner, Pa Celestine Egbohuche, who had been at the confines of Enugu Maximum Prison for over 19 years has finally regained freedom.
Pa Celestine was released on Thursday to his only surviving daughter, Chisom Celestine, through a non-governmental organisation, Global Society for Anti-corruption which had been pushing for his release at the Enugu Prison.
The centenarian will clock 101 by August 4, 2019. He hails from Amachara-Owerre, Akokwa in the Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State, and was condemned to death along with his son, Paul, and another relation, who is now 87 years old.
However, his release came following several media campaigns championed by GSAC that no country of the world had a centenarian in prison custody. The organisation demanded that Pa Celestine should be granted pardon.
Following the pressure, Governor Rochas Okorocha, last week granted the centenarian a state pardon.
Immediately after his release from prison custody amidst cheers and jubilation, Pa Celestine was rushed to St. Daniel’s Hospital, at No 7, Link Avenue, Enugu, where he was admitted for a checkup.
Speaking to our correspondent, the Regional Director, GSAC, Mrs Amaka Nweke, thanked God for granting Pa Celestine freedom and called on well-meaning Nigerians to come to the aid of the centenarian.
Nweke disclosed that the saddest news her organisation received after the Imo State Government granted him pardon was that his house was demolished shortly after he was imprisoned.
While commending Okorocha for granting Pa Celestine state pardon, Nweke lauded GSAC President, Mr Frank Ezeona, for his encouragement and support throughout the struggle for his release.
“The Global Society for Anti-Corruption thanks God for what He has done. We bless the name of the Lord for being with Pa Celestine and making this day a reality.
“Actually on September 5, 2018, we petitioned the President of our dear country and the immediate past governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, pleading for pardon for Pa Celestine.
“His pardon was based on his age and his health condition because we found out that his health condition was worsening every day. We petitioned that he should be granted pardon because a centenarian is not supposed to be in prison. When you check other countries, you can’t find someone of his age in prison.
“On Sunday, I got a call from the former Attorney General of Imo State that Pa Celestine had been granted pardon by the state government. We are happy. We thank the President and former governor Okorocha for signing the pardon and we are most graceful to the Nigerians that made our plea go viral.”
Pa Celestine’s daughter, Chisom, said she was happy, lamenting that she was fatherless for 19 years he was in prison for murder.
She, however, called for the release of her only brother, Paul, saying that he was innocent of the crime he was accused of.
She said, “I am so grateful to God who made this day a reality; who made it possible for my father to come out of prison after spending over 19 years there. I thank the NGO whose effort made it possible for my father to be released without charging us anything. May God continue to bless them!”
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