President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has declined to assent to the Criminal Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which seeks to proscribe witchcraft accusations, the Criminal Offences Amendment Number Two Bill, 2023 and the Armed Forces Amendment Bill.
He explained that the contents of these Bills had his support, but they needed to be enacted in line with constitutional and legislative processes.
The three Bills were introduced to Parliament as Private Member’s Bills.
The President, in a letter dated 28th November, addressed to the Speaker of Parliament, explained that he was unable to assent to these Bills because of concerns regarding Article 106 of the 1992 Constitution, particularly, by their nature.
These Bills were introduced into Parliament as Private Member’s Bills, rather than by the President or on his behalf.
He noted that the concerns raised were significant and had profound implications for the constitutional integrity of these legislative actions.
He reiterated that any legislation the House passed must be in complete alignment with the Constitution.
“I intend to have these Bills reintroduced in Parliament on my behalf in due course,” the President stated.
The President extended his appreciation to the Speaker for his contributions during their meeting at the President’s Office held on November 28, to consider the outstanding Bills passed by the House.
Speaker Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, after reading the content of the President’s letter to the House, recalled that on Monday, the 27th of November, he directed the Table Office to strike out item number 10 in the Order Paper, which called on the House to rescind its decision on the 27th day of July, 2023, to approve and pass into law the Bill on the Criminal Offences Amendment Bill, 2022, after the third reading of the Bill.
“At the time I gave the directive, I had evidence that the Bill, together with other Bills passed by the House during the Second Meeting had been authenticated by the Clerk to Parliament and forwarded to His Excellency the President for assent,” he said.
“The Clerk had presented to His Excellency for assent the Criminal Offences Amendment No. 2 Bill, 2023, on the 3rd of August, 2023, and the Armed Forces Amendment Bill 2023, for assent.”
The Speaker said he personally followed up with a request for an update on the status of the Armed Forces Amendment Bill 2023, which was submitted to the President for assent by a letter, dated 10th November 2023.
Speaker Bagbin said in the communication from the President, which he read to the House, the President signified, pursuant to Article 106(7) that he was unable to assent to the Criminal Offences Amendment No. 2 Bill 2023 because, upon review of the Bill, he noted some constitutional matters relating to its passage.
The Speaker said he would convey the House’s eagerness to read from the President these constitutional matters he mentioned in the letter.
“In the meantime, I want to implore members to exercise restraint and patience, and await the response from the President, and then we take it from there. I thank you for your understanding.” the Speaker said.
Meanwhile, the President in a second letter to the Speaker, also dated November 28, 2023, urged the House to reconsider various portions of the Wildlife Resources Management Bill, 2023, to ensure that the Bill, when enacted would be in line with constitutional and legislative processes.