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Parliament passes Vigilantism, Related Offences Bill

Parliament has passed the Vigilantism and Related Offences Bill, 2019, into law, awaiting Presidential assent to become effective. 

Under the guidance of the Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Ekuful, on behalf of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Madam Gloria Akuffo, the bill went through a second Consideration Stage before receiving the endorsement of the House in Accra yesterday.

The motion for the Second Consideration was moved by the Majority Leader and Suame Member of Parliament (MP), Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, for the Explanatory Memorandum to be amended. 

That decision by the Majority Leader to move for a Second Consideration was challenged by the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, who argued that he [the Majority Leader] was not the Attorney-General to move for amendment of the long title.

But, coming under Standing Order 130(1) of the House, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the rules of the House gives him the power to move for a second consideration, either wholly or in respect only of some particular part or parts or new proposed clauses or new schedule. 

“If any Member desires to delete and or amend a provision contained in a bill which has passed through the Consideration Stage, or introduce any new provision to it, he may, at any time before a member rises to move the Third Reading of the bill, move that the bill do pass a second Consideration Stage…,” order 130(1) reads. 

The Majority Leader, therefore, amended the Explanatory Memorandum, paving way for the motion for a Third Reading, which would ultimately culminate in the passage of the bill. 

Governs Kwame Agbodza, MP for Adaklu, said under Standing Order 131(1), the bill could not be passed because 24-hours needed to elapse before it becomes matured for passage. 

The Order reads: “A Bill having passed through the Consideration Stage, the Third Reading shall not be taken until at least twenty-four hours have elapsed.” 

In a rebuttal, the Majority Leader said it had become a convention for bills to undergo a Second Consideration and passed same day without necessarily applying the 24-hour rule. 

Both sides of the House, however, unanimously ‘voice voted’ in favour of the passage of the bill when the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, put the question “All those in favour say I.” 

The bill, laid in Parliament on April 11, 2019, under a certificate of urgency, seeks to disband political party vigilante groups in the country and to proscribe other acts of vigilantism. 

The need for the Vigilante Law is in fulfillment of a pledge by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, during the presentation of the February, 2019, State of the Nation Address, to cause Parliament to enact a legislation to deal with acts of vigilantism in the country. 

To get to the root of the cause of the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence, President Akufo-Addo also constituted the Justice Emile Short Commission to probe the incident. 

Though the three-member commission has presented its report to President Akufo-Addo, it is yet to be published, though the Minority in Parliament and some other interest groups have requested the report to be published. 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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