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Governor Akinwunmi Ambode swears in convicted fugitive, Dickson, as head of Lagos Safety Commission

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Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Monday swore into office Hakeem Dickson, a fugitive convicted of fraud in the United States, as Director General of the Lagos State Safety Commission.

Also sworn in were Gabriel Babawale and Noah Olanrewaju Lawal-Jinadu as Commissioners of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC); Bolaji Are, Iyabo Ladipo and Ayo Adebusoye for the Public Procurement Agency; and Jokotola Ojosipe-Ogundimu for Audit Service Commission.

The governor also swore in members of the state’s Public Procurement Agency, Audit Service Commission, Director-General of the State’s Safety Commission and also inaugurated members of the State Science and Innovation Council.

Mr. Dickson, an ally of the governor, was sworn in 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 has 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.

But Mr. Dickson had repeatedly claimed he had served 17 months out of the 24 in a Lagos prison after he was arrested by Nigerian security officials upon his return to the country in 1992.

A PREMIUM TIMES fact-check found the claim to be false.

A Lagos State House of Assembly spokesperson, Tunde Braimoh, had told PREMIUM TIMES last April, when the lawmakers confirmed Mr. Dickson’s appointment by the governor, that theHouse did not receive any petition or complaint against the nominee.

While he was swearing in Mr. Dickosn and the others into office on Monday, Governor Ambode said their appointments were “strictly informed” by the track record of achievements, integrity and credibility of the members.

Noting that the ceremony was in compliance with the relevant laws establishing the agencies, the governor urged the members to see their appointment as an invitation and a privilege to be part of the future prosperity of the state.

“Your appointment is a call to public service and I am very confident that you will justify the trust the government has reposed in your ability and capacity to add value to the corporate governance, growth and development of the state,” Mr. Ambode said.

“Let me also add that your appointment is an invitation and a privilege to be part of history as we lay a solid foundation for the future of Lagos, a Lagos that our children and their children will enjoy for many years to come.”

He said the appointment of Messrs. Babawale and Lawal-Jinadu to the Board of LASIEC was necessitated by the exit of two members of the commission who had completed their second term, adding that the provision of the law setting up the commission requires that the board be constituted by the chairman and six members.

“With this appointment therefore, LASIEC is properly constituted to conduct the forthcoming Local Government elections in the state,” the governor said.

Mr. Ambode also commended the chairman and members of the commission for their efforts so far to ensure that the July 22 local government elections are free, fair and credible.

He said the Public Procurement Agency and Audit Service Commission are two key agencies established mainly to ensure transparency and accountability in the procurement process as well as the management and application of public resources, urging the newly appointees to bring their professionalism to bear to deepen the application of these principles to ensure that the tax-paying public get full value for their money.

He also charged the Director-General of the State Safety Commission, Mr. Dickson, to show leadership and deliver on the mandate of the commission to prepare and adequately handle emergency situations through continuous public education and enlightenment as well as enforcement of safety precautions and rules.

In his vote of assurance, Mr. Babawale, who responded on behalf of the appointees, thanked the governor for their appointments, assuring him that he and his colleagues would key into his vision to make Lagos a smart city.

“We would cherish it very seriously and deliver on our mandate. This is a call to duty and we are prepared for the task,” Mr. Babawale said.

Governor Ambode, while also inaugurating the Lagos State Research and Innovation Council chaired by Deputy Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, urged members of the council to bring their wealth of experience to bear on the efforts of the state government to harness the full potentials of scientific research in developing solutions to challenges facing the state.

While noting that there was hardly any area of human endeavour that had not been positively affected by science in the 21st century, Governor Ambode said application of scientific innovation remained the key to achieving efficiency, effectiveness and accelerated development in a knowledge – driven economy.

The terms of reference of the council, among others, are to manage the science research and innovation fund which would be applied towards funding research that have the potentials to directly benefit the citizenry in terms of job and wealth creation.

The council will also be responsible for promoting research and innovation activities in public and private institutions and identify all research and innovation products that are bankable and translate such to commercial activities with a view to establishing small and medium scale industries, as well as promote science education by organising various scientific activities that will encourage the teaching and learning of science subjects in all public schools in the State.

Other members of the council are Adenike Fajemirokun, Akeem Adeniji-Adele, Oladokun Oye, Frank Ojadi, Martins Aneiekhai and Sikiru Adegoke. Others representing Lagos State in the council are Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Olawale Oluwo; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology, Olufunmilayo Balogun; and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Adesina Odeyemi

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