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General News of Friday, 12 April 2019

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Plan to pass anti-vigilantism bill under certificate of urgency castigated

A disappointed NDC General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, says government is stifling public input in trying to pass a bill to tackle political vigilantism under a certificate of urgency.

“There are many, many stakeholders who are eager to find solutions so why would the president…come out to say that the thing should be passed under a certificate of urgency” he asked.

The bill landed on the floor of Parliament on Thursday, 24 hours before Parliament rises for the Easter break.

The bill makes good President Akufo-Addo’s vow to cause the enactment of a law criminalising the menace of party militias. And it comes 49 days after his widely applauded vow in Parliament, where he delivered the State of the Nation Address.

The bill defines a vigilante as “a person who participates in the activities of a vigilante group that is associated, related, connected or affiliated to a political party a political party officer, a political party member, a person who acts as a land guard and a person who engages in other acts of vigilantism.”

It has been referred to the Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs.

While Parliament faces a race against time to pass the bill urgently as recommended by the Executive, Asiedu Nketia has criticised the method employed.

He wants the Executive to “let the process flow” explaining, the Committee should invite memoranda from the public which can enrich the quality of the intended law.

The Minority spokesperson on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Inusah Fuseini, has backed the plan to pass the bill urgently.

He told Joy News Thursday, he won’t “quibble” with the process the pass the bill that moves the activities of political thugs from the lesser punitive charge of a misdemeanor and into the realms of a felony which comes with a maximum jail term of 25 years.

But the NDC General Secretary who is a former MP indicated on Top Story on Joy FM on Friday that, it is too early for MPs to find the current bill sufficient in addressing the menace.

Drawing on his 12 years’ experience in Parliament, he said: “every bill that is submitted on the surface of it without discussion appears to be a good bill…when you get to the details that is where you find the devil.”

He recommended that Parliament rises without passing the bill. The House can be recalled to pass it after the Committee has been able to consider the input of stakeholders.

“We are interested in bringing the input but they are locking the door,” he said.

“That amounts to double standards on the part of the President. You make all the right noises but all his actions show that he doesn’t want vigilantism to be eliminated,” he expressed disappointment.