The other day something extraordinary and unexpected happened in the hallowed chambers of the Supreme Court of Nigeria during the hearing of a political matter that concerns the gubernatorial seat of the Cross River State.
It was at the hearing at the Supreme Court of the appeal filed by the indefatigable Joe Agi Odey (SAN) against the Peoples Democratic Party and Senator Ben Ayade, Governor of Cross River State.
After the adoption of the Brief of Argument of the Appellant (Joe Agi SAN) by his Counsel and he urged the Court to allow the appeal.
The Counsel to the 1st Respondent (Peoples Democratic Party) stood up to make an application to the Court withdrawing its Brief of Argument and conceding to the appeal and urging the Court to allow it in favour of Joe Agi (SAN)!
I, read somewhere on Facebook where some legal ignoramuses were trying to make light and dismissing with a wave of the hand what transpired in the Supreme Court on that fateful day , I just laughed!
What is the implication of the concession of the Counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party to the appeal of Joe Agi (SAN)?
The Counsel to the PDP pointedly told the Court that his client (PDP) support the position of Joe Agi that the 2nd Respondent (Senator Ben Ayade) did not comply with the Guidelines of the PDP lay down by the Party to regulate the conduct of the 2015 Governorship Primary Election and as such the Party had decided to withdraw it sponsorship of him.
In law, what the Counsel to the PDP did amounts to admission against interest?
What is admission? Section 20 of the Evidence Act, 2011 defines the word ‘’ admission ‘’ thus:
‘’ An admission is a statement, oral or documentary, or conduct which suggests any inference as to any fact in issue or relevant fact, and which is made by any of the persons, and in the circumstances, hereafter mentioned in this Act’’.
In a case in Court, an admission can be made a party to the proceedings or his or her agent.
Section 21 (1) of the Evidence Act provide thus
’’ Statements made by a party to the proceeding, or by an agent to any such party, whom the court regards, in the circumstances of the case, as expressly or impliedly authorised by him to make them, are admissions’’
Even though customarily, where a party to an appeal concedes to the appeal or fails to file his Brief of Argument, the Appellate Court or Supreme Court (as the case may be) is still bound to hear the appeal in the merit and deliver its judgment one way or the other, this is the case here.
In the case under reference it is the case of a Party to an appeal making an admission against interest. By Ifere Paul