Tonye Cole, the former All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Rivers State during the last general election, expressed his disappointment with the situation where election disputes are resolved by the judiciary rather than through the ballot boxes.
He made these remarks during a visit to The Guardian’s Rutam House corporate head office in Lagos while addressing the editorial board. He commented on the recent judgment by the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), which heard challenges against President Bola Tinubu’s electoral victory.
In his view, many issues that may seem important on election day often lose relevance in court. Evidence presented in court may not hold up as expected, which can lead to frustration among those who witnessed events on election day and expected the court to act accordingly.
Cole believes that a lack of understanding about gathering the right kind of evidence during elections has contributed to this situation. He emphasized that elections involve more than just collecting Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and mobilizing voters. Educating the electorate on gathering admissible evidence is crucial.
Cole pointed out that many election-related complaints in Nigeria include electoral violence, rigging, and ballot box snatching. During elections, photos and messages often circulate on social media and mainstream media. However, when it comes to presenting evidence in court, the challenge is to ensure that the evidence is admissible.
This may require having date stamps, location stamps, and context, such as specific names, locations, and descriptions of the events, to make the evidence legally sound.
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