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Parliament passes Vigilantism and Related Offences Bill

Political vigilantism has been outlawed in the country following the passage of the Vigilantism and Related Offences Bill, 2019 into law by Parliament.

The act is now awaiting Presidential assent to become effective.

Parliament voted unanimously in favour of the passage of the bill when the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, put the question to a voice vote.

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ms Gloria Akuffo, laid the bill in Parliament on April 11, 2019 under a certificate of urgency and the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, which deliberated on it, unanimously agreed that it was of an urgent nature.

The committee, however, recommended that further consultation was needed with stakeholders to make the bill more comprehensive and affective.

Following engagements with stakeholders, many amendments were proposed, which culminated in the second reading and the consideration of the bill.

The passage of the bill into law is in fulfilment of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s promise during the presentation of the 2019 State of the Nation Address in February to cause Parliament to enact legislation to deal with acts of vigilantism in the country.

Initial disagreements

At Monday’s sitting of Parliament, the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, moved the motion for the second consideration to amend the explanatory memorandum.

However, the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, challenged the decision by Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu to move for a second consideration because he (Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu) was not the Attorney-General to move for an amendment of the long title.

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

Standing Order 130(1) stipulates: “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…”

Clothed with that provision, the explanatory memorandum was amended by the House, paving the way for the motion for a third reading and passage of the bill into law.

Another argument was raised by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Adaklu, Mr Governs Kwame Agbodza, who indicated that under Standing Order 131(1), the bill could not pass because 24 hours needed to elapse before it could become mature for passage.

Standing Order 131(1) reads: “A bill having passed through the Consideration Stage, the Third Reading shall not be taken until at least twenty-four hours have elapsed.”

Rebutting that position, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said it had become a convention for bills to undergo a second consideration and passed the same day without necessarily applying the 24-hour rule.

Source: Graphic.com.gh

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