The newly appointed Director-General of the Lagos State Safety Commission, Hakeem Dickson, was economical with the truth when he told a U.S. District Court that he had served his prison sentence in Nigeria, PREMIUM TIMES can confirm.
Mr. Dickson, a former Internal Auditor at the now defunct Nigeria Airways, was appointed head of the state’s Safety Commission by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on October 4.
His appointment, which is subject to confirmation by the State House of Assembly, came despite evidence that he fled from the U.S. in 1992 after being convicted for credit card fraud and sentenced to 24 months in prison.
Judge Dickinson Debevoise of a U.S. District Court held, in 2012, that Mr. Dickson had not served a 24 month sentence imposed on him in June 1992.
“For 20 years, Defendant successfully evaded all United States government efforts to locate and arrest him,” Judge Debevoise stated in a judgment made public by Sahara Reporters.
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.
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 showed that the Nigerian Prisons Services does not have any record of Mr. Dickson serving a jail time between 1992 and 1993.
“We checked both our Lagos and Abuja records.”
When asked if a prisoner can do time using a different name, Francis Enobore, Nigerian Prisons’ spokesperson, painted all the possible scenarios.
“Normally, if a prisoner is being transferred from any other country to Nigeria, to serve the remaining part of his or her sentence, the person will be accompanied with valid documents,” Mr. Enobore, a Deputy Controller of Prisons, said.
“So the name the person bore in the primary country of conviction will still be the name the person will use in Nigeria.
“The only condition where you may have an inmate bearing different names is where we have all these recidivists – all these people that go to prison and come and then the following day he’s going back, for different offences.
“You can see a recidivist – we call them jailbird – one person will have close to five different names. For theft he will have a different name, he’ll go to prison A. By the time he comes out and commits another crime, he’s going to prison B, he’s bearing a different name.
“If you see him in prison C on a different offence, he’s bearing a different name.”
Mr. Enobore said an individual convicted overseas and being transferred to Nigeria would be accompanied by his biodata and other relevant documents.
“If he escaped in the US and he was arrested in Lagos for the same offence, whoever is arresting him will arrest him based on the information he got from the US government, which will involve his name, the offence he committed, his address, everything they have about him,” Mr. Enobore said.
“If he was arrested in Lagos for a different offence, yes it is absolutely possible for him to bear a different name.
“If it’s the same offence….because the person arresting him, on what basis is he going to arrest him? They are going to arrest him based on the evidence of the document they gave to them from the US, that so and so person is on the ‘wanted’ list.”