Nigeria: Ambode Commissions Lagos Road Named After Convicted Fugitive

The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, last weekend commissioned the Hakeem Dickson road in Lekki, named after the convicted fugitive boss of the Lagos State Safety Commission.

Mr Ambode was represented at the official unveiling of the Bisola Durosinmi-Etti/Hakeem Dickson road by the commissioner for works and infrastructure, Ade Akinsanya.

Others present at the event were Muslim Folami, the commissioner for local government and community affairs; Hakeem Muri-Okunola, the head of service; Hakeem Sulaimon, special adviser to the governor on community and communications, and Ajibade Bade-Adebowale, the permanent secretary, ministry of energy and mineral resources, among others.

Since 2016, the Lagos State Government had repeatedly ignored PREMIUM TIMES' requests for comments as to whether it was aware of Mr Dickson's criminal history.

Again, on Monday, Kehinde Bamigbetan, the commissioner for information, and Habib Aruna, Mr Ambode's chief press secretary, did not respond to phone calls and text message requests for comments.

Mr Ambode swore Mr Dickson into office as the director-general of the Lagos State Safety Commission in June 2017, eight months after he announced his appointment.

L-R: Mr. Hakeem Olaogun Dickson as Director General of Lagos State Safety Commission, Mrs. Jokotola Ojosipe-Ogundimu as member of Audit Service Commission, Mr. Ayo Adebusoye, Mrs. Iyabo Elizabeth Ladipo and Mr. Bolaji Miftah Are as members of Public Procurement Agency; Prof. Gabriel Olatunde Babawale and Noah Olanrewaju Lawal-Jinadu as members of Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), taking Oath of Office, being conducted by the Director, Legislative Drafting, Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Yejide Kolawole before Governor Akinwunmi Ambode at the Lagos House, Ikeja, on Monday, June 19, 2017.

Mr Dickson, a former chairman of Surulere local government, had earlier incurred the angst of the Lagos State House of Assembly after he immediately resumed office, after the announcement of his appointment, without first appearing before the lawmakers for screening.

His appointment by the governor and subsequent confirmation by the House of Assembly occurred despite evidence that he is a fugitive convicted of fraud in the United States in 1992.

Tunde Braimoh, a spokesperson for the Lagos lawmakers, told PREMIUM TIMES at the time that they did not receive any petition or information about Mr Dickson's criminal past during his screening.

Mr Dickson, a former internal auditor at the now-defunct Nigeria Airways, was sworn into office despite fleeing 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.

Convicted for fraud

On June 14, 1991, Mr Dickson, 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 a 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.

Representative of Lagos State Governor and Commissioner for Works & Infrastructure, Engr. Ade Akinsanya (middle); Commissioner for Local Government & Community Affairs, Alhaji Muslim Folami and Chairman, Lekki Resident Association, Mr. Kayode Otitoju during the commissioning of the Bisola Durosinmi-Etti/Hakeem Dickson Road in Lekki, at the weekend. Back row (L-R): Head of Service, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola; Chairman, Zone 8, Lekki Phase1, Alhaji Rilwan Aruna; Special Adviser to the Governor, Community and Communications, Mr. Hakeem Sulaimon; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works & Infrastructure, Engr. Olujimi Hotonu (2nd right); Special Adviser to the Governor on Taxation and Revenue Matters, Mr. Lasisi Abdul-Fatai and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Engr. Ajibade Caster Bade-Adebowale.

"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.

About 20 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."

But a PREMIUM TIMES' investigations showed that the Nigerian Prisons Services does not have any record of Mr Dickson serving a jail time between 1992 and 1993.

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