Akufo-Addo to Bagbin: Witchcraft Bill was presented yesterday to Jubilee House

Akufo-Addo to Bagbin: Witchcraft Bill was presented yesterday to Jubilee House

The Office of the President has clarified that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has not declined to assent to the Criminal Offences (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2023, which seeks to outlaw witch doctors and witch-finding practices.

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This comes after Speaker of Parliament, Alban S.K, Bagbin on Monday, November 27, 2023, expressed displeasure over the President’s alleged silence on the bill.

Related: Witchcraft bill yet to receive assent

On the Floor of Parliament on Monday, November 27, 2023, it came up that five months after Parliament had passed the Criminal Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which makes it an offence to accuse any person of being a witch, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was yet to assent to it to become law.

Haruna Iddrisu

It was the Minority, championed by the MP for Tamale South, Haruna Iddrisu, who maintained that the failure of the President to assent to the bill constituted a constitutional breach which should not be countenanced.

Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

In the ensuing debate, the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, jumped to the defence of the President by saying that he (the President) had noticed some technical challenges in the bill and had arranged to meet with the Speaker to iron them out before passing it into law.

Speaker Bagbin

The Speaker, Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, on noticing that the bill, even though it had been passed by the House, had found its way back into the Order Paper for consideration.

He, subsequently, ordered that it be taken out of the Order Paper immediately.

The Speaker said Parliament was a serious organ and must therefore be taken seriously.

Clarification by Presidency

In a press statement responding to the Speaker's accusation, the Office of the President has explained that the Bill was presented to him on Monday, November 27, 2023, the same day the Speaker made the accusation.

The bill, a private member’s bill sponsored by Member of Parliament for Madina, is aimed at preventing attacks on alleged witches and prohibit individuals from operating as witch doctors or witch-finders.

The statement from the presidency, signed by Eugene Arhin, Director of Communications explained that the President takes his constitutional duties seriously and will carefully consider the bill before making a decision.

“Contrary to the claims made in these reports by the Speaker of Parliament and the Minority Caucus in Parliament, President Akufo-Addo has not remained silent on the Bill. How could the Speaker of Parliament accuse the President of remaining silent on the Bill when it was officially presented to him on Monday, 27th November 2023, the same day the Speaker made the accusation?

“Indeed, the Bill was officially presented to the President for his assent together with the Wildlife Resources Management Bill, 2023 and National Petroleum Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2023, under cover of a letter dated 27th November 2023, with reference PS/CS/112/826. (See attachment).

“It is, thus, wholly inaccurate that the Bill has been sitting on the desk of the President without receiving due attention.”

CLARIFICATION ON THE STATUS OF THE CRIMINAL OFFENCES (AMENDMENT) (NO.2) BILL, 2023 

The Office of the President has noted recent media reports suggesting that the 
President has declined to assent to the Criminal Offences (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 
2023 (the “Bill”), a legislative measure aimed at amending the Criminal Offences 
Act, 1960 (Act 29).

Indeed, the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Bagbin, is 
reported, on Monday, 27th November, to have “rebuked Akufo-Addo over ‘silence’ 
on the Criminal Offences Amendment Bill”. 

It is important to state, at the outset, that the amendment is specifically designed 
to outlaw the roles of witch doctors or witch-finders, in addition to prohibiting the 
act of declaring, accusing, naming, or labelling an individual as a witch, alongside 
other related matters. 

Contrary to the claims made in these reports by the Speaker of Parliament and the 
Minority Caucus in Parliament, President Akufo-Addo has not remained silent on 
the Bill.

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How could the Speaker of Parliament accuse the President of remaining 
silent on the Bill when it was officially presented to him on Monday, 27th November 
2023, the same day the Speaker made the accusation? 

Indeed, the Bill was officially presented to the President for his assent together 
with the Wildlife Resources Management Bill, 2023 and National Petroleum 
Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2023, under cover of a letter dated 27th November 
2023, with reference PS/CS/112/826. (See attachment). 

It is, thus, wholly inaccurate that the Bill has been sitting on the desk of the 
President without receiving due attention. 

President Akufo-Addo is mindful of Article 106 (7) of the Constitution, which affords 
the President seven (7) days to review and give his assent to any Bill presented to 
him. In light of this constitutional provision, it is important to note that the 
President is still well within the legally stipulated timeframe to make a decision 
regarding the Bill.

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During this period, the President may examine the bill 
thoroughly and, if necessary, convey any concerns or suggestions he might have 
regarding its contents to Parliament. 

The Office of the President assures the public and media that Bills, including this 
current Bill, the Criminal Offences (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2023, are being 
attended to with the utmost respect for constitutional mandates and legislative 
processes. 

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