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View Full Version : The Untold Story Of The Agogo-Fulani Herdsmen Fracas



Neo
13th December 2011, 01:16 AM
The protracted case between the people of Agogo in the Asante Akim North district of the Ashanti Region, and the Fulani herdsmen in the area, which has dominated media headlines, took a new twist when the youth demanded the immediate removal of the Omanhene, Nana Akuoko Sarpong.

Citing the Omanhene as being responsible for the atrocities visited on residents by the cattle breeders, by allowing the Fulani herdsmen to occupy their lands for so many years, the angry youth matched to the Omnahene’s palace on Wednesday to start the process for his destoolment.

History

Reports indicate that the Fulani herdsmen started arriving in the traditional area which has huge tracts of arable lands sharing boundary with the Kwahu Hills in the Eastern Region, in 1987.

By 1990, the Fulani herdsmen, according to painstaking checks conducted by DAILY GUIDE, had besieged the area in their numbers and had started destroying the farms.

The Fulanis slept in bamboo sheds and occupied areas such as Nyamebekyere, Bebuso, Brahabome, Mankaila, Abrawapun, Onyemeso and Pataban where a lot of fresh grass and water bodies abound.

Agogo residents did not have any qualms about the settlement of the Fulanis whom they described as aliens. Reports say they migrated from Chad, until they began destroying people’s farms with their herd of cattle.

In 2000, the destruction of farmlands in the area by these nomads became prevalent to the extent that the residents began to protest against their activities.

Along the line, residents attacked the Fulani herdsmen when calls for their eviction were not heeded.

Many of the residents, mostly the youth, DAILY GUIDE learnt, got wounded because the Fulani herdsmen were armed with all sort of offensive weapons including sophisticated guns.

In a retaliatory attack, the residents descended on the Fulani herdsmen and killed one Fulani man in the town and dragged his body to the bush.

As a result of this, Nana Akuoko Sarpong, a member of the Council of State, was said to have ordered the deployment of military personnel to the area to maintain law and order.

Because of the alleged brutalization by the ‘occupied’ soldiers, the front of the residents was broken until they came together again in 2004 to reiterate their demand for the expulsion of the herdsmen.

After a series of protests, the late Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, then Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, who was a native of the town, DAILY GUIDE learnt, spearheaded the flushing out of the Fulani herdsmen from the area.

In the course of the eviction exercise, the paramount chief allegedly entered into a secret agreement with six major cattle owners, led by Alhaji Karim Grunsah, bankroller of King Faisal Football Club, in May 2006, to regularize their stay in the area.

The chief was alleged to have charged the six cattle owners GH¢5,000 and a number of cattle before allocating an area for their occupation for a lease of 50 years.

Realizing that some of the Fulani herdsmen had been allocated a permanent land, others who were driven to the Kwahu hills came back and joined their colleagues.

Though the struggle for the expulsion of the Fulani herdsmen continued unabated, the efforts of the residents amounted to nothing due to the regularization of the activities of some of the cattle owners in the area by the paramount chief.

After the 2008 elections, more Fulani herdsmen relocated to the area and caused more havoc.

Atrocities

Due to the exodus of more Fulanis to the area, the activities of the herdsmen intensified and many farmlands in the area were destroyed by the cattle who also fed on them.

According to the residents, the cattle did not only destroy farms but the herdsmen also killed and wounded people and raped women in the presence of their husbands.

The victims, the residents said, were people who resisted the destruction of their farms by the cattle under the watch of these Fulani herdsmen.

“You may be on your farm and suddenly realize that herd of cattle has invaded your farm and destroyed everything on sight but if you dare raise concern about the destruction, you are either shot dead or wounded by herdsmen controlling the cattle,” a resident told DAILY GUIDE.

Another resident indicated that what infuriates the Fulani herdsmen is the practice where farmers use chemicals in controlling the growth of weeds on their farms.

“When they see you spraying chemicals on the weeds, they get irritated because when the weeds die, the cattle would not get some to feed on and would therefore shoot at you,” a farmer stated.

The residents said women who unfortunately come across these roaming cattle caretakers, are raped at gunpoint even in the presence of their husbands, who are also ordered to watch their wives being raped.

Apart from these atrocities allegedly being committed by these nomads, they are said to have also taken over schools in areas they occupy, thereby denying students access to classes.

Farmers in recent times have refused to go to their farms for fear of being attacked by cattle herdsmen.

In view of this development, economic activities in the town which is noted for the production of foodstuffs such as plantain, maize and water melon have suffered a glitch.

Nana Akosua, the 2010 best farmer in the area, who is into the production of plantain and water melon, told DAILY GUIDE that the herdsmen once told her categorically that if they met her alone in the farm, they would subject her to marathon ---.

The woman, who noted that the Fulani herdsmen have destroyed her 20-acre plantain farm, said because of the threat, she has stopped going to the farm.

The residents, unable to take the attacks anymore, under the auspices of the Agogomanmmakuo and the Agogo Youth Association, initiated a new struggle in 2010 with press conferences and demonstrations.

In August this year, the residents prevented the paramount chief from observing the final funeral rites of his late uncle, stressing that they would only allow the funeral to be held only when the Fulani herdsmen had been driven away from the area. As at now, the body of the chief’s uncle is still in the morgue awaiting burial.

Government Efforts

Having recognized the fact that the security in the area could be undermined without government intervention, the National Security Coordinator, Lt Col Larry Gbevlo-Lartey(rtd), deployed a team of military men to Agogo to see to the eviction of the herdsmen.

Though the military men were at post, the Fulani herdsmen could not be driven away after the expiration of the two-week ultimatum because they (Fulanis) had case a pending case in court.

The paramount chief, a lawyer by profession, had dragged them to a Kumasi high court because the Fulani herdsmen had failed to comply fully with the terms of the agreement which regularized their stay in the area.

According to the chief, it was agreed that the Fulani herdsmen would construct a kraal for their herd and also provide a source of water to ensure that the cattle did not go out to destroy water bodies and farm lands.

Reacting to the new development, the youth held a press conference and tasked the paramount chief to withdraw the case from court to pave way for the flushing out of the Fulani herdsmen from the area.

But Nana Akuoko Sarpong refused, thereby forcing the National Security to extend the deadline by two more weeks, a development which incurred the displeasure of the townsfolk.

When the additional two weeks expired and there was no sign of the Fulani herdsmen leaving the area, the youth took to the streets, claiming to have destooled the chief.

The Youth React

The youth have categorically kicked against any move to relocate the Fulani herdsmen to any part of the area, stressing that all that they were interested in was the total eviction of the Fulani herdsmen from the area.

Emmanuel Buabeng, chairman of the youth association, told DAILY GUIDE that they will not allow the relocation of the Fulani herdsmen to any other part of the area.

According to him, they have accommodated them for far too long and that it is about time they moved to continue their activities in other parts of the country.

Mr Buabeng stressed that residents of the area have suffered so much from their guests, pointing out that this iss the time for the people to be liberated.

“All the cattle owners including Alhaji Grunsah have areas they come from so if they want to continue to be in business, then they should be prepared to send the animals to their respective areas,” he said.

Cattle Owners

The cattle owners, led by Alhaji Grunsah, have categorically noted that they cannot be evacuated until the final determination of the court case, pointing out that it will be out of place for them to be evacuated whilst the case is still pending in court.

Alhaji Grunsah emphasized that at the meeting chaired by Col Gbevlo-Lartey, it was not agreed that the Fulani herdsmen should be evacuated but rather relocated to a different area where there was no habitation and farming activities.

Again, he stated that they were tasked at the meeting to ensure that their animals were properly housed and also given a source of water to prevent the usual destruction of water bodies and farm lands.

Nana Akuoko Sarpong Speaks

The paramount chief finally broke his long silence on the matter when he stated that it is not true that he secretly entered into an agreement with six of the cattle owners for their occupation in the area.

According to him, the said agreement was done publicly during one of the usual sittings of the traditional council and that the views of the people were sought before the agreement was sealed.

The paramount chief categorically denied collecting GH¢5,000 and a number of cattle from the cattle owners, indicating that he could not do such a thing because it was not the practice of the traditional council.

The paramount chief, reacting to the recent demonstration calling on the Asantehene, Otumfou Osei Tutu to destool him, asked his subjects to leave him alone because he is not in the best of health condition.

Nana Akouko Sarpong said he has been very ill in recent times to the extent that he is unable to travel from his base in Accra to Agogo to perform the necessary traditional functions.

“I’m not in a perfect health condition now so I humbly ask my people to leave me alone,” he told Kessben FM on Thursday morning.




Source: Morgan Owusu