Member of Parliament for Madina, Lawyer Francis Xavier Sosu has disclosed that he and other lawyers are readying themselves to head to the Supreme Court to seek a declaration that the decision of President Akufo Addo’s not to sign the Witchcraft Bill violates the constitution.
According to him, the President’s decision not to assent to the Bill is very retrogressive and smacks of bad faith.
President Akufo-Addo says he is unable to sign the Criminal Offences Amendment Bill 2023 seeking to prohibit the act of declaring, accusing, naming, or labeling an individual as a witch, among other related matters, due to certain constitutional concerns.
In a letter to the Speaker of Parliament read to the House, the President argued that the bill sponsored by the NDC MP for Madina, Francis-Xavier Sosu must come from the Executive and not as a Private Members Bill.
“During over conversation, I raised specific constitutional concerns regarding these bills relating to Article 108 of the constitution, particularly the nature of these bills which were introduced to Parliament as Private Members Bills rather than being presented by the Executive on my behalf.
“I appreciate the opportunity to engage with you in a meaningful dialogue about these critical legislative matters. I value your insights on the subject. As I indicated, the contents of these bills have my support but we need to ensure that they are enacted in line with constitutional and legislative processes thus after thorough consideration, and in light of the constitutional issues I pointed out during our meeting, I am unable to assent to these bills,” Speaker Alban Bagbin read on behalf of President Akufo-Addo.
The update from the President comes barely a week after the Speaker of Parliament accused President Akufo-Addo of neglecting the bills.
Commenting on the issue on Ghana Kasa show on Kasapa 102.5FM/Agoo TV Tuesday, the MP for Madina, Francis Sosu said the President has no basis to decline assenting the Bill,.
He added that the President citing constitutional provisions in his [Sosu] respectful view is untenable and incongrous.
“We have gone through all the processes to ensure that all the major stakeholders that are involved have actually been covered. This bill was in accordance with law and there hasn’t been violation of any law. So, it is quite strange the position put out by the President. The decision not to assent to the bill is very retrogressive.”
The lawyer cum legislator stated that if even a single person dies on account of witchcraft activation it will be a bloat on our conscience as Ghanaians, especially when there is a law that the President must assent to.
“After passing this bill in July till now, three women accused of being witches have already died. Unfortunately, I feel that we are not really serious as a people. This is a social problem we are trying to solve as a country. We are using law as a tool for social development. Our elderly women are dying, there are lots of elderly women accused of being witches who have been kept in camps and being maltreated and so this is not something we have to toy with.”