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Nicolas Sarkozy Given Jail Sentence For Illegal Campaign Financing

Nicolas Sarkozy

Nicolas Sarkozy given jail sentence for illegal campaign financing

The former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been sentenced to a second jail term after being found guilty of illegal campaign financing for the vast, showman-style political rallies of his failed 2012 re-election campaign.

The 66-year-old, who remains an influential figure on the French right, received a one-year sentence that the judge said could be served under house arrest by wearing an electronic ankle bracelet.

Sarkozy is now in the extraordinary and unprecedented situation of having two custodial sentences. At the same time, he has maintained his high public profile, publishing a book on culture this month and regularly being interviewed on TV for his views on April’s presidential race, with candidates on the right vying for his endorsement.

In March, Sarkozy became France’s first postwar president to be handed a custodial sentence when he was given a three-year jail term, two years of which were suspended, for corruption and influence peddling over attempts to secure favours from a judge.

Sarkozy has appealed that verdict and under French guidelines had not yet begun serving the sentence. If the verdict and sentence are upheld on appeal, there is a possibility of wearing an electronic ankle bracelet during his punishment.

Sarkozy will also appeal against Thursday’s verdict on illegal campaign financing, his lawyer said. He had denied wrongdoing in the two cases.

The latest trial was labelled the “Bygmalion” case for the name of the events company that organised Sarkozy’s elaborate and artfully filmed stadium gigs in front of thousands of flag-waving fans when he was fighting for re-election and lost to the Socialist party’s François Hollande.

In court, the state prosecutor highlighted Sarkozy’s “couldn’t care less” attitude in demanding one rally a day in the form of vast “American-style shows” and allowing costs to rise substantially above the legal limit for a presidential election campaign.

The prosecution said accountants had warned Sarkozy he was about to pass the official €22.5m spending cap but that he insisted on holding more events to fend off Hollande, who was gaining ground as a “Mr Normal” seeking to crack down on the world of finance.

In the end, Sarkozy’s campaign spending came to at least €42.8m, nearly double the legal limit.

Delivering the verdict on Thursday, the judge said Sarkozy went ahead with organising the rallies after being warned in writing of the risk of going over legal spending limits. She added: “It wasn’t his first campaign, he was an experienced candidate.”

Sarkozy, who was not in court for the verdict and attended only one day of the trial, argued he had been too busy running the country to pay attention to an “accounting detail”. He said allegations he was reckless with public money were “a fairytale”.

Seen as one of the best orators on the French right, he had delivered thunderous speeches from slick, purpose-built sets in huge venues with big audiences, accompanied by specially composed music as renowned directors filmed the extravaganzas for TV and beamed images on to giant screens around the room.

A series of other party members or events organisers were found guilty of further charges of setting up or benefiting from a fake billing scheme to cover millions of euros in excess spending.

Although Sarkozy is the first former modern French leader to receive a prison sentence, he is not the first to be found guilty in court. In 2011, Jacques Chirac, then aged 79, received a two-year suspended sentence for corruption committed while mayor of Paris.

Sarkozy is facing other ongoing legal investigations. He has been placed under formal investigation in what is potentially France’s most explosive political financing scandal in decades: allegations that he secretly received €50m from the former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi for his successful 2007 election campaign. Sarkozy has repeatedly denied the allegations, dismissing them as “grotesque”.

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TCN Restores National Grid

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has announced the restoration of the national grid after its partial collapse on Monday.

This was made known by Mrs Ndidi Mbah, TCN’s General Manager, Public Affairs in a statement in Abuja.

Mbah said that the national grid experienced partial system disturbance at about 10.51 am, as a result of a sudden drop in system frequency, which created system instability.

She said that the restoration of the affected grid commenced immediately at 11.55 am with Osogbo/Ihovbor, followed by Jebba/Osogbo, Kainji/Jebba, Benin/Onitsha, Shiroro/Kaduna, Shiroro/Katampe and Alaoji/Ikot-Ekpene.

Others are Lokoja/Gwagwalada, Odukpani/Ikot Ekpene, Benin/Omotosho, Oke-Aro/Ikeja west, Egbin/Oke-Aro and Kaduna/Kano.

She said the grid restoration has almost been completed, adding that the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) regrets any inconveniences caused.

Mbah said NESI appreciated the understanding of electricity customers within and outside the country.

According to her, NESI is committed to leveraging the concerted interventions instituted so far to enhance power supply reliability so that the issue of system disturbance will soon become outdated.

She said the National Control Centre would launch a full-scale investigation “to establish and ascertain the cause of the partial disturbance as this unwholesome event has resulted in aggregated generation loss.

 

 

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Chukwudi Ajaegbu, 35, Arraigned For $11,000 Fraud

A 35-year-old importer, Chukwudi Ajaegbu, has been arraigned before the Ogba Magistrate’s Court for allegedly obtaining $11,000 fraudulently from one Austine Ukaoha in the Ikeja area of Lagos State.

Ajaegbu appeared before Magistrate F.M. Onamusi on a three count charge.

The defendant, with others at large, were said to have conspired to commit felony, to wit stealing, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 411 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, Nigeria 2015.

According to the police, sometime in 2010 on Bread Fraint Street, in the Balogun area of Lagos, the defendant, with others at large, conspired among themselves to obtain the sum under false pretences.

The charges read in part, “That you, Chukwudi Ajaegbu, on the same date, time and place, in the Lagos Magisterial District, did fraudulently obtain the sum of $11,000 from one Austine Ukaoha, under the pretence of importing goods from China, the presentation known to be false, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 314 (3) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, Nigeria 2015.”

The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Magistrate Onamusi adjourned the matter till December 7, 2022.

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2023: NBC Tasks Broadcasters On Professionalism

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has tasked broadcasters to handle political campaigns with professionalism.

The director-general of NBC, Balarabe Ilelah said this on Monday at a multi-stakeholders dialogue held in Abuja.

As campaigns for the 2023 elections are set to begin on September 28, Ilelah asked broadcasters to ensure not to allow hate speech or fake news on their platforms.

“This is in addition to ensuring equity in airtime allocation and coverage of political parties’ activities, particularly during prime times,” he said.

“It is also the time for you to make money from political adverts and campaigns, but ensure that this is done within the ambit of law.

“Broadcasters are also required to handle live political rallies with care and due professionalism. This is in addition to studio-based live political interviews/broadcasts. Because of the sensitivities of such programmes, broadcasters are advised to install delay mechanisms.

“Remember that broadcast stations are held responsible for any breach. The stations shall, therefore, assume and accept editorial responsibility”, he added.

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