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30.05.2019 General News

Akufo-Addo Rushed Premature Vigilantism Bill To Parliament – Minority MPs

By Clement Akoloh
Leadership of the Minority bench in Parliament
Leadership of the Minority bench in Parliament

While Parliament is already seized with work on the Vigilantism and other Offences Bill 2019 which is expected to bring to an end the electoral violence in the country.

Some members of the Minority group in Parliament has described as premature the Bill which they claim has been rushed to score cheap political point.

According to the Minority MPs, the consultative processes which will allow the state to craft a law which will deal decisively with political vigilantism during elections have not been fully exhausted.

The Ranking Member on the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of Parliament, Inusah Fuseini says the President failed to exercise proper discretion in the interest of good governance when he chose to introduce the Vigilantism and Related Offences Bill to Parliament without first reading, and issuing a white paper on the report by the Commission of Enquiry he set up to investigate the matter.

According to him, it is only when the President has fully purged himself of the underlining causes of the phenomenon that he could now issue a white paper underlining the challenges identified by the Commission; while applying some of its recommendations to address specific issues in the legislation.

“Wouldn’t it be premature for the President to be rushing a Bill to Parliament? It is premature, because it is only after you’ve read and issue a white paper, understood the issues that you can bring legislation. So, on this side, we can say that it was premature. You have rushed the Bill to Parliament when you have not read the Committee of Enquiry report,” he observed.

He added that “All that we are saying is that, tomorrow the report on the Vigilantism and Related Offences Bill will be taken and then after we will move for the second consideration. It is only proper that we appreciate and understand the recommendations of the Commission of Enquiry so as to impact the provisions of the Bill and craft a robust legislation to deal with this canker”.

Similarly, the Member of Parliament for the South Dayi Constituency in the Volta Region, Rockson-Nelson Dafiamekpor, has indicated that the President’s decision has been rushed ahead of the outcome of the discussion of the two main political parties about the processes to be adopted to disband the political vigilante groups associated with them.

He is concerned that the process being led by the National Peace Council at the instance of the President is yet to issue a communique on their deliberations. This, he thinks is a key ingredient which will help Parliament in its deliberations to craft a law which will be fit for purpose.

“As a Parliament, we are not seized with the draft copies of the National Peace Council’s code of conduct on this matter, yet we are being called to legislate over this matter including land-guardism. No stakeholder consultations have been held with chiefs in some of the paramountcies where land-guard issues are prevalent,” he lamented.

Mr. Dafeamekpor further indicated that the Bill in its current form was too scanty to deal effectively with the enormity of the situation confronting the nation.

He said, “If you look at the Bill, it is too brief to tackle the activities that we are dealing with. It is a ten clause Bill. So we want to be very clear that we want to craft a law that will stand the test of time”.