The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has responded to President Akufo-Addo’s letter justifying his refusal to assent to the Criminal Offenses Amendment Bill 2023.
In the letter, the president cited a violation of Article 108 of the constitution and the potential financial burden on the state’s consolidated fund as reasons for his decision.
However, Bagbin, while reading excerpts of the letter to the House, criticized its content as “irregular, wrongful, and unconstitutional.”
“Vehemently, we disagree with the position taken by the president. The president has gotten it tragically wrong and I will submit in the form of a statement under Article 53 my position in this matter and allow members of the House to make comments so that we can take a clear position in this matter.”
“And I will do so during the course of this week. The president has not been properly advised. The president has not been properly informed about the processes this bill has gone through. So I will submit a detailed write-up on it for members to make their comments but I am very clear that this message and the contents are irregular, wrongful and unconstitutional,” he added.
The Speaker asserted that the president lacks a comprehensive understanding of the bill and emphasized the necessity for him to thoroughly review it.
Bagbin pointed out that it is not within the president’s authority to determine the “constitutionality” of a bill that has been presented and considered by Parliament.
He underscored that the mandate to make such determinations rests solely with Parliament and cannot be usurped by any external authority.
“The responsibility to decide whether a bill should come from a private member or not rests on the person presiding. The procedure in the act clearly states what the president is expected to do. It is not for the president to decide on the constitutionality or otherwise of a bill that has been presented and considered by parliament. This power of parliament will not be taken away by any exempt authority,” he said.
The Criminal Offences Amendment Bill 2023 which is sponsored by Francis Xavier Sosu addresses various issues, including the prohibition of declaring, accusing, naming, or labeling an individual as a witch, among other related matters.
Despite parliamentary approval, the President’s hesitance to sign these bills revolves around constitutional considerations.
In July, Parliament approved the Armed Forces Bill, which aiming to amend sections of Act 29 and the Armed Forces Act, 1962 (Act 105), with the intent of replacing the Death Penalty with life imprisonment.