Fulani herdsmen in trouble as police, soldiers to flush them out of Agogo

Security personnel have been deployed to Asante Akyem in the Ashanti Region to flush out nomadic Fulani herdsmen following increased tension between residents of the area and the herdsmen.

The deployment by the Ashanti Regional Security Council (REGSEC) is to prevent the already tense relationship between the residents and the herdsmen from escalating into violence.

Two indigenes have been reportedly killed this week on their farms.

The tension has also resulted in the movement of some Fulani herdsmen from Agogo in the Ashanti Region to Begoro in the Fanteakwa District in the Eastern Region following threats by the youth of the area that the nomads should leave.

This sentiment was also the major highlight of a press conference held by the Ashanti REGSEC which blamed the recent violent clashes, some resulting in death, between the indigenes of Agogo and the herdsmen on inflammatory statements made by leading members of the area.

It said before the recent press conference organised by the Agogo Youth Association on January 26, 2016, ‘there was relative peace and calm in the area’.

It said, however, that the inciting statements by the Communications Director of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Mr Ernest Owusu Bempah, and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Asante Akyem North, Mr Kwadwo Baah Agyapong, calling on the people to arm themselves against the herdsmen worsened the situation.

Addressing a press conference in Kumasi Wednesday following developments in the area, the outgoing Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Peter Anarfi Mensah, called on opinion leaders in the affected communities to refrain from issuing inciting statements meant to provoke people into taking the law into their hands.

He said the duty of the REGSEC was to maintain law and order and especially to protect lives and properties, irrespective of people’s nationalities.

He said following the said press conference, the youth of the area had led a series of attacks on the herdsmen in and around Agogo, leading to the killing of a number of cows and injuries to both indigenes and herdsmen.

According to him, the menace was not restricted to Agogo but also Drobonso, Ejura, Kumawu and parts of the Eastern Region.

He said the youth had launched unrelenting attacks on herdsmen in the area, irrespective of whether they were resident cattle rearers or nomads, since that fateful press conference.

He denied the allegation that the REGSEC had been slow in responding to issues relating to the atrocities committed by the Fulani herdsmen under the perception that some of the cattle belonged to some powerful and influential people in society.

Begoro concerns
Some concerned residents of Begoro have called for measures to halt the activities of the herdsmen who are reportedly making moves to resettle in the Begoro area after being threatened by the youth of Agogo.

A middle-aged man who gave his name as Brobbey Owusu recounted that a few years ago the herdsmen, with their animals, caused a lot of havoc, including raping women on their farms.

He suggested that fodder banks be established in the Afram Plains where the herdsmen and their animals could be confined.

Others also hold the view that the Fanteakwa District Security Council (DISEC) needs to be up and doing to prevent the bloodshed that has characterised the nomads’ stay in Agogo.

The route 
Information gathered by the Daily Graphic indicates that the herdsmen use routes from the Kwahu South Afram Plains District to get to the Begoro area.

When reached on telephone, the District Chief Executive for Fanteakwa, Mr Abass Mohammed Sbabe, said he was in a meeting with the outgoing Eastern Regional Minister in Koforidua.

However, an official of the assembly said the DISEC would soon meet to find a solution to the issue.

Fulani leader
But a leader of the Fulani Community in Ghana, Chief Alhaji Iddrisu Mohammed Bingle, called for restraint on the part of the indigenes of Agogo and the Fulani community.

‘The two sides should not take the law into their hands but exercise maximum restraint so that we can find an amicable solution to the problem,’ he said in a telephone interview with the Daily Graphic from Kasoa in the Central Region.

He said together with others, he was planning a meeting with all the Fulanis in the Agogo area to find a lasting solution to the problem.

‘If the solution is for them to leave the area, we will engage them to do that; we can have lasting peace. Ghana is big enough to contain all of us,’ he said.

According to him, there were currently more than 5,000 Fulani herdsmen in Ghana — a figure he indicated was an estimation, given that there were others who entered the country on the blind side of the leadership of the Fulani community.

The nomads arrive from Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Cameroon.

Alhaji Bingle said a way out of the recurrent clashes was for chiefs who gave out their lands to the nomads to zone their areas, clearly indicating where the Fulanis could graze their cattle and where indigenes should farm.

‘Some of the chiefs are to blame because the Fulanis don’t come through the back door. The chiefs allocated lands to them without informing their subjects. If they point out where each side can work, we will not have these tense situations,’ he said.

The blame
Fulanis are widely known to originate from Northern Nigeria. Although there are Fulanis who settle and live modern lifestyles, for others the culture is to lead their animals to graze — an activity that breeds conflict between the nomads and indigenous communities in Ghana and other parts of West Africa. 

Alhaji Bingle blamed the current tension on Mr Agyapong for inciting the youth of the area against the Fulani community.

In January last year, the Ashanti REGSEC reactivated ‘Operation Cow Leg’ in Agogo and its environs to check the activities of nomadic Fulani herdsmen whose cattle had been destroying farms.

It was also to ensure that cattle from other regions, particularly the Eastern Region, did not stray into the area for grazing.

Fact Sheet
1-  On January 11, 2016, a traditional priest, Okomfo Kwasi Badu, was shot by a Fulani herdsman on his farm at Kowireso.

2-  On January 26, 2016, the MP for Asante Akyem North, Mr Kwadwo Baah Agyapong, and Mr Ernest Owusu Bempah, the Communications Director of the National Democratic Party, called on the youth to arm themselves against the Fulani.

3-  They also called on the residents to defy the orders of the traditional council to attend a meeting until the herdsmen were evacuated from the area.

4-  Following the press conference, there have been clashes between the residents and the herdsmen, leading to the killing of cattle and injuries to some people.

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