Bagbin rebukes Akufo-Addo over ‘silence’ on Criminal Offences Amendment Bill



The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has expressed his displeasure with the President over his silence on the Criminal Offences Amendment Bill 2022, which relates to witchcraft.

The private member’s bill, sponsored by the Member of Parliament for Madina, Francis Xavier Sosu, was passed in July 2023 with the aim of preventing attacks on alleged witches and prohibiting any persons from operating as a witch doctor or a witch-finder.

However, the Speaker says the President has failed to communicate to Parliament on whether he assents or disapproves of the bill, as constitutionally required.

He directed that the bill, which has been advertised again in the order paper, be expunged.

“At a number of events, the president, during the recess, indicated to me verbally that he wants to discuss something with me. That is all. He didn’t talk specifically about the bill. It is the Majority Leader who spoke to me about the bill, stating that he has sight of it and saw that what has been compiled has problems. So I directed the clerk at the table to go through the deliberations of the house to see if they were the ones that had been captured.”

“On the final day, the Majority Leader was not available. But Parliament has established a department called a legislative office, and they are called upon to capture what happens here before sending it to the draft department for them to compile the decisions of the house in the form of the bill. So there is a procedure in doing this. And for us not to receive any communication from the presidency, even to acknowledge receipt or to say they have a problem with it, that is definitely unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, the Minority Leader, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, mentioned that Parliament must take steps to deal with the constitutional breach by the President.

“The Criminal Offence Amendment bill together with the witchcraft bill was approved by this house months ago. Mr. Speaker, these are bills that I have personally followed, and I am aware that the bills, after the passage of this house, were sent to the president months ago. So clearly, Mr. Speaker, there is a constitutional breach, and this house must take steps to deal with it.”

The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, however, in his explanation, said some anomalies were sighted in the bill after its passage, hence the decision to rectify them before approval by the President.

“Mr. Speaker, what happened was that…After the passage of the bill, going through it, we saw major issues. That is from Parliament itself and also informed the president that there are issues with the bill, which prompted him to indicate that he then has to have conversations with the Speaker. Unfortunately, at the time, the Speaker was unavailable, and when the president came, the Speaker was also unavailable. As for the president assenting to the bill, it can easily be done.”

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