Vigilantism Bill Lands In Parliament

Gloria Akuffo, The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Gloria Akuffo, yesterday introduced the much-touted Vigilantism and Related Offences Bill, 2019 to Parliament on behalf of the President for consideration and passage into law under a certificate of urgency.

The new bill, which was promised by President Akufo-Addo during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament on February 21, seeks to disband vigilante groups and completely eliminate the activities of land guards in the country.

The Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, consequently referred the bill to the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament to determine the urgency of the bill to enable the House to pass it under a certificate of urgency.

After the Committee considered the urgency or otherwise of the bill, the chairman Ben Abdallah Banda, who is the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Offinso South, told the House that even though the bill is urgent, the committee will plead for an extension of time to engage political parties, civil society organizations, security agencies and other stakeholders to come up with thorough and robust bill that will stand the test of time.

The House unanimously agreed to the recommendations of the committee for some inputs from the public.

The Speaker of Parliament therefore invited submissions and inputs from political parties and other interested persons as soon as possible to enable the committee consider them.

The House is expected to rise today for Easter and resume on April 29 to consider the bill after the inputs from the public.

Laying the bill yesterday, the Attorney-General Ms Akuffo said the Bill has become necessary due to the rise in violent activities of such groups who are used by politicians and political parties to seriously threaten the country’s democracy.

“The phenomenon of politically-related violence threatens Ghana’s fledgling democracy and the rule of law,” she said, stressing that “the widespread revulsion and condemnation of the violence that characterized the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election on January 29, 2019 led to the setting up of a Commission of Inquiry by the President to investigate whatever led to those violence.”

She further indicated that the President on February 21 also called on the leadership of the two major political parties in the country, the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) to meet and voluntarily disband the vigilante groups when he delivered his State of the Nation Address in parliament.

According to her, the president said that if the voluntary disbandment of vigilante groups by the political parties fails, he would initiate legislation to disband them.

She said the move by the President showed his commitment to nip the canker in the bud.

The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, welcomed the legislation and said that its introduction really indicates that the President is in a hurry to stop the activities of the groups.

According to him, the activities of the political party vigilante groups are in no doubt a threat to Ghana’s democracy and security in general.

He said the executive is concerned about the phenomenon and wants to pass such a bill to stop the activities of political vigilante groups which threaten the country’s security and democracy.

“Once the bill has been brought here we on our part will fully support it,” the Minority leader add.

The deputy majority leader, Adwoa Safo said the President must be applauded for its commitment to tackling politically-related violence in the country.

By Thomas Fosu Jnr

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