Lagos Assembly confirms fugitive convicted for fraud in U.S. as head of state’s Safety Commission
By Ben Ezeamalu
“On the issue of his confirmation, we did not receive any petition from any quarter, nothing was forwarded to us.
“His confirmation was done in open plenary, if there was anything like a criminal record, it was not brought to our attention.” – Lagos State House of Assembly
The Lagos State House of Assembly confirmed the nomination of Hakeem Dickson as head of the state’s Safety Commission despite the nominee being a convicted fraudster and a fugitive, PREMIUM TIMES can report.
Mr. Dickson, a former Internal Auditor at the now defunct Nigeria Airways, was confirmed alongside three others – Jokotola Ogundinmu as the Chairman, Lagos State Audit Service Commission; and Ayo Adebusoye and Mobolaji Aare as members of the Lagos State Public Procurement Board.
On October 4 last year, Governor Akinwinmi Ambode nominated Mr. Dickson as the Director General of the Lagos State Safety Commission, an agency empowered to set safety standards in the socio-economic activities in the state.
Mr. Dickson, an ally of the governor, was nominated despite fleeing from a 24-month jail term in the U.S. after being convicted for credit card fraud.
According to Judge Dickinson Debevoise of a U.S. District Court, Mr. Dickson had not served the sentence handed to him since June 1992.
“For 20 years, Defendant (Mr. Dickson) successfully evaded all United States government efforts to locate and arrest him,” the judge said in a judgment published by Sahara Reporters, last year.
CONVICTED FOR FRAUD
On June 14, 1991, Mr. Dickson, who is also a U.S. citizen, was arrested on a complaint of bank and credit card fraud.
Four months later, he pleaded guilty to Count One of a four-count indictment which charged that from August 29, 1990, to September 10, 1990, he “knowingly and willfully executed and attempted to execute” a scheme to defraud a federally insured institution in violation of U.S. laws.
On June 25, 1992, Mr. Dickson was sentenced to 24-month jail term, to be followed by a term of supervised release of three years.
He was also ordered to repay $14,400.
The judge fixed August 3, 1992 for his voluntary surrender, despite opposition from the U.S. government, the plaintiff in the suit.
“The government had urged at sentencing that Defendant be remanded forthwith or at least surrender to the Bureau of Prisons no later than the following Monday, June 29, 1992,” the judge said.
“The court noted that while on bail Defendant returned on three occasions after being given permission to leave the country.
“The Court also took account of Defendant’s wish to spend more time with his one-year-old son, who suffered severe medical problems. Thus the August 3, 1992, surrender date.”
But on August 3, 1992, Mr. Dickson was nowhere to be found in the U.S., forcing the judge to revoke his bail and issue a warrant for his arrest.
Twenty years later, on January 27, 2012, Mr. Dickson, filed a motion seeking to adjust his sentence of 24 months incarceration in the U.S. by claiming that he had already served 17 months on the same sentence in a Lagos prison.
In his motion, Mr. Dickson claimed that a series of events after his sentencing, preceded by violent clashes between Muslims and Christians in Lagos, forced him to disobey the August 3 surrender date.
“During these clashes, two of Defendant’s sisters were killed and the family home was burned to the ground,” the judge quoted Mr. Dickson as claiming, in his judgment dated May 12, 2012.
“Following his sentencing Defendant returned to Lagos to bury his sisters, assess the damage to his father’s house and to take his mother for treatment.
“When Defendant arrived in Lagos, he was arrested at the airport and was told that since he was convicted in the United States he would also serve time in Nigeria. He was retained in custody until December 10, 1993, a total of 17 months.”
NO RECORD IN NIGERIAN PRISONS
PREMIUM TIMES’ investigations, in October last year, showed that the Nigerian Prisons Services does not have any record of Mr. Dickson serving a jail time in a Nigerian prison between 1992 and 1993.
“There is no name like that in our record,” a top Prisons source told this newspaper at the time.
“We checked both our Lagos and Abuja records.”
Francis Enobore, Nigerian Prisons’ spokesperson, said an individual convicted overseas and being transferred to Nigeria would be accompanied by his biodata and other relevant documents.
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TUESDAY, APRIL 11, 2017. 4:35 a.m. [GMT]