The Majority has denied the Minority’s claim that President Akufo-Addo breached the constitution by allegedly failing to assent to the amendment to the Criminal and Other Offences Act within the time limit.
The Minority Leader, Dr. Ato Forson said the Criminal and Other Offences Act amendment, which was passed in July this year to criminalise accusations of witchcraft and the practices of witch-finders, has still not been assented to by the President.
“So clearly, Mr. Speaker, there is a constitutional breach and this House must take steps to deal with the constitutional breach that we have seen in the criminal amendment bill and the witchcraft accusation bill,” he stated.
However, the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu rebutted the accusation, asserting that “it is not on account of the President deliberately refusing to assent to nothing like that.”
According to him, President Akufo-Addo has not assented to the bill because he does not seek to indict Parliament for doing a poor job on the Witchcraft (Amendment) Bill after discovering “major issues” with it which are fundamental to the legislation.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said after the passage of the bill, while going through it as usual, they discovered major issues in the bill that required revision.
“That is from Parliament itself and then we had some conversations with the Speaker and we also informed the President that there are fundamental issues with the bill which has been passed by Parliament,” he added.
He indicated that this prompted the President to arrive at a decision to have some conversations with the Speaker on the matter.
“It is an engagement between the two of them that has delayed and stalled this. So I am waiting for us to see the outcome of the engagement between the President and your good self (Speaker),” he noted.
“Unfortunately, at the time the Speaker was not available, and when the Speaker came the President was also not available.
“That has contributed to the matter not being on the burner. As for the President doing it – thus assenting to it, he could have simply done that.
“Except that it will be found out that Parliament did not do a good job, which was going to be an indictment on us.
“We needed to find a way about it whether to have it come through a second consideration of rescinding the decision on the passage for it to go through a second consideration for us to effect these corrections,” he intimated.
Earlier, the Speaker of Parliament, Alban S.K. Bagbin, said it was unacceptable for Parliament not to receive a communication from the presidency to acknowledge receipt or “to say they have problem” with the bill.
“Because there must be records for people to follow as to what happened in respect of this process. So please that is why I am drawing your attention to it before it is taken off the Order Paper,” he explained.
For him, it is for good reason that the framers of the 1992 Constitution mandated Parliament to pass laws.
“Article 106 is very clear. It says the power to make laws shall be exercised by bills passed by Parliament and assented to by the President.
“This bill was passed by Parliament at the second meeting before we went on recess. It was compiled by the Draft Department,” he stated.
By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House