Haruna Iddrisu, former minority leader and Member of Parliament for Tamale South Constituency has lamented over the delay of the assertion of the anti-witchcraft bill by the President of the Republic H. E. Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo five months after it’s been passed.
The Criminal Offences Amendment Bill 2022 was passed on 28 July 2023, which seeks to proscribe witchcraft accusations.
The object of the bill is also to amend the Criminal Offences Act 1960(Act 29) to prohibit the practice of any person as a witch doctor or witch-finder to proscribe the declaration, accusations, Naming or labelling of another person as a witch.
The former minority leader on the floor of Parliament discharged his displeasure on the delay on the assertion of the bill, by the President.
He noted that Article 106 of the 1992 Constitution indicates that a bill should be assented to by the President after 14 days after it’s been passed by Parliament.
Mr Iddrisu hence stressed that Parliament shouldn’t allow the President to walk on such a wrong path because it is an unconstitutional act, which is, therefore, a breach of the Constitution.
He therefore called on the President to act on this issue with speed to write to the Speaker formally and explain why he has not assented to the anti-witchcraft bill.
However, the leader of government business, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, responding to the former minority leader agreed to his observations but justified that, after the passage of the bill, some fundamental issues were found.
According to the majority leader, the president was informed about aims errors found in the bill for which the president agreed to have a conversation with the Speaker on the way forward.
However, the speaker was not available when the president was ready to talk to him. Upon the Speaker’s return, the president also travelled, and that has been the main issue hindering the assertion of the bill but not a deliberate action by the President he clarified.
Speaking on the matter, the Rt. Hon Speaker S. K. Alban who was presiding at the time, stated that there is a procedure a bill goes through after an error is rectified, hence it is unacceptable for the president to say they have a problem with the bill without going through the due process.
He therefore ordered that it should be taken out of the order paper until the right thing is done.
By: Mary Quartey