The people of Agogo in the Asante-Akim North District of the Ashanti Region say they feel neglected and abandoned by past and current governments’ failure to halt the activities of Fulani herdsmen in the area.
In a statement jointly issued and copied Graphic Online by Agogoman Mma Kuo (Local) and Agogo Worldwide Association, the concerned indigenes of the area said they are disillusioned and despondent by the continued neglect of the area by the government.
According to the two groups, in spite of the fact that over 40 people in the area have been killed by the Fulani herdsmen since they started plying their business in the area, both the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP) governments have not shown any commitment towards ending the menace.
They said the NDC government under former President John Dramani Mahama lacked the political will, determination and courage to solve the Fulani menace in the area during their time in power.
Similarly, the groups say, they are disappointed in the current government under the leadership of President Akufo-Addo for not honouring a promise he made to the people of Agogo to halt the Fulani herdsmen activities in the area.
“We feel forgotten and abandoned. Fulani herdsmen have invaded our lands and chased people out of their farmlands, farms and cottages”, they bemoaned.
They have, therefore, called on the government to as a matter of urgency take actions to end the practice in the area.
Below is the full statement:
FULANI HERDSMEN INVADE AGOGO LANDS
Atrocities committed by Fulani herdsmen across many parts of the country and degradation of our environment by galamsey operators are undoubtedly the most serious problems the new administration inherited from the previous one.
The NDC government under former President John Dramani Mahama lacked political will, determination and courage to solve these serious issues of the country.
Fulani herdsmen roamed about in many parts of the country with large herds of cattle destroying people’s farms, polluting water bodies, killing and maiming innocent farmers who dared to challenge or confront them, with impunity; galamsey operators polluted rivers, destroyed forests, farmlands and farms with reckless abandon. Once a while the government would move against the galamsey operators but any action it took at all was lackadaisical and a nine days wonder.
It was, therefore, most reassuring when in the run-up to the last parliamentary and presidential elections, candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo promised that he would end galamsey in the country if voted into power. Nana Akufo-Addo promised the people of Agogo, in particular, that the menace of the Fulani herdsmen in their area would be a thing of the past. Ghanaians believed and trusted him. No wonder the good people of this country voted massively for him and the NPP. And the rest is history.
No sooner had he assumed the reins of power, than he took the bull by the horns by banning galamsey operations in the country. The big men, powerful and influential people, who were behind the galamsey operations, have since recoiled into their shells. The fight against illegal mining is ongoing and we hope, very soon, the peaceful and law-abiding people of our dear nation will heap a sigh of relief.
However, the people of Agogo in the Asante-Akim North District of the Ashanti Region are disillusioned and despondent. We feel forgotten and abandoned. Fulani herdsmen have invaded our lands and chased people out of their farmlands, farms and cottages. They have systematically over the years killed forty (40) people, maimed several others, raped women and girls, burned thousands of acres of food crop, vegetable and fruit farms. They terrorize and intimidate farmers with assault rifles like AK-47, pump action and other deadly guns to abandon their lands, farms and cottages. Those who challenge or resist them are eventually murdered and their lands taken over. By so doing, they have succeeded in creating a vast area for grazing their cattle. The area covers almost the entire Afram Plains part of the Agogo Traditional area. It encompasses the villages of Abrewapong, Mankala, Brahabebome, Agyaanafo, Abrewanko and the following villages along the banks of the river Afram: Mantukwa, Bunso, Addokrom, Srekyeso and Afrisre. The Fulani herdsmen and cattle have now come very close to about half (1/2) a mile from the outskirts of the Agogo township. They now taunt and tease the people of Agogo with the expression; “Gogo beko Ankara, Fulani beba Gogo,” meaning: “Agogo (people) will go to Accra and Fulanis will come to Agogo”.
And this can happen, sooner or later. Agogo Zongo lies in the heart of the township and Fulani herdsmen now constitute the largest single ethnic group among the Zongo population. They always move about carrying double-edged daggers concealed on their bodies.
We are now 11 months into the new administration and the government has not said or done anything about the invasion of Agogo lands by Fulani herdsmen.
The atrocities committed against the people of Agogo by the alien lawless Fulani herdsmen are very well documented; and the nation is silent over them. The people of Agogo have over the years appealed to the government through demonstrations, protests, petitions, etc. Even a Kumasi High Court’s order directed at the government to flush out Fulani herdsmen and cattle from the Agogo Traditional area, has not been complied with yet since 2012.
The loud silence of the government over the Agogo Fulani issue, and its refusal or inaction to flush the Fulani herdsmen and their herds of cattle from our lands have created a sense of insecurity and apprehension among our people, especially farmers in the Agogo Afram Plains areas.
Already, a rumour that the government or the Agogo Traditional Council has earmarked a large area in the Agogo part of the Afram Plains for the Fulanis to graze their cattle there is gaining currency in the country. It may be true or not, but the frantic and clandestine carting and driving of herds of cattle from parts of the country into our part of the Afram Plains make people believe it is true.
Be that as it may, it must be made known, and we hereby inform the general public that there are no free farmlands in the Agogo Traditional area. Natives of Agogo, individuals and families hold usufructuary or possessory rights over farmlands. There is virtually no stool farmland in the Agogo Traditional area.
Large tracts of the Agogo stool lands have been leased by the current Omanhene, Nana Akuoko Sarpong, to local and foreign companies: Scanfarm Ghana Ltd. (32,266. 74 acres at Baamaa and other areas), Hulstein Warren Co. Ltd (6,972.78 acres at Kansanso), Clear Farms/Agro Impex (5,017 acres at Mantukwa) and others.
The farmlands leased to these companies encompass individuals’ and families’ farmlands. This has brought about litigations at the law courts between some citizens of Agogo and some of the companies. Therefore, Nana Akuako Sarpong or the Agogo Traditional Council has no farmland of any appreciable size for lease, sale or grant.
The People of Agogo would never have allowed the Fulani herdsmen to invade their lands gradually over the years. It is the conduct of Nana Akuako Sarpong in particular, and the Agogo Traditional Council in general that has brought about this calamity upon us. Our forefathers fought for our lands. From Nana Ofori Krobon to Nana Kwaku Duah, before Nana Akuoko Sarpong, for a period of over 250 years, not an inch of Agogo land was leased or sold!
THE HISTORY OF THE FULANI INVASIONS
First Invasion: On 25th June, 1997 the Agogo Traditional Council allowed four Fulani cattle herdsmen, Mohamadu Ali, Imoru Dieo, Hamadu Gariba and Sambo Dango, who had crossed the Agogo eastern boundary with Kwahu lands and entered the village of Abrewapong with herds of cattle, to occupy a parcel of land on “temporary basis” at Abrewapong village area on Agogo land under the following terms and conditions:
1) “That each herdsman pays to the Agogo Stool at the end of every year one (1) live cattle as a Tenant Toll beginning from the end of 1997.”
2) “That a good care be taken by the herdsman to prevent the animals from destroying the farms and food items of farmers at the area of occupation, since damage caused by the animals would be borne by the herdsman”.
3) “That any behaviour which would lead to fighting, chaos and disturbance at the area would not be tolerated and would lead to nullification of his grant of occupation.”
4) “That if the need for change of site arises, the herdsman would contact the Council for a new site or otherwise”.
The permission was signed for the Traditional Council by Nana Kwame Nti, Krontihene, and Nana Kwadwo Baah, Odikro of Abrewapong.
Soon the Abrewapong area was inundated with more herdsmen and many more herds of cattle. The four Fulanis who introduced themselves to the Traditional Authorities as herdsmen were found out to be rather cattle owners. The 2nd and 3rd terms and conditions for “grant of occupation” of a parcel of land at the village of Abrewapong were flouted. The cattle destroyed people’s farms and crops, and the herdsmen brutally assaulted farmers who confronted them. Farmers in the Abrewapong area protested vehemently to the Agogo Traditional Council and vowed to expel the Fulani herdsmen from their lands. The council, sensing danger, gave the Fulanis ultimatum to quit by 5th February, 1999 or be expelled with force.
Then, a certain organization, Ghana Butchers Association Ltd. of Mamprobi, Accra, wrote to the District Chief Executive of the then Asante Akyem North District asking for a “reconciliation between Traditional land owners ( of Agogo) Asante Akyem North and local herdsmen( Fulanis)”. The letter dated 25th January, 1999 was signed by one Alhaji Ayoum Toure, the First National Trustee.
The 5th February, 1999 ultimation passed, and the Fulani herdsmen remained on the Agogo Stool Land. Their incursions rather spread to other areas!
The late Hon. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu of blessed memory, the M.P for the then Ashanti-Akim North constituency, drew the attention of the nation on a number of occasions on the floor of parliament to the protests of the people of Agogo against the presence of the Fulani herdsmen on their lands, and the brutalities perpetrated against them by the latter. He called on the government to expel the Fulanis from Agogo Lands.
The NPP government under former president John Agyekum Kuffour eventually ordered the expulsion of the Fulani herdsmen from the Agogo Traditional area. A small detachment of soldiers managed to expel them.
The hardworking and peaceful people of Agogo, especially farmers on the Afram Plains, regained their freedom and dignity. There was not a single Fulani herdsman on Agogo soil by the end of 2008.
But their freedom from the Fulani invaders did not last long.
THE 2ND INVASION:
The NPP lost power, and the NDC took over the administration of the country early 2009.
Nana Akuako Sarpong, a staunch NDC member, regained his composure. No sooner had the NDC come to power, than he granted lands in the Agogo Traditional area “on political and economic issues”, as he put it, to Alhaji Karimu Grusah, a well-known personality in Ghana football and a very influential person, and five other persons (Duuse Moro, Ali Mamudu, Fuseini Hassan, Mutiga Salia and Dauda Kassim) to rear cattle “on experimental basis”, for fifty (50) years with a provision for a further term not exceeding fifity (50) years after expiration of the first term. Each one of them was granted 50 acres of land at a “yearly rent of five hundred (500) Ghana cedis” payable to him (the leassor)
Alhaji Grusah and the five other cattle owners brought large herds of cattle onto lands in the Agogo Traditional area. Thus begun a new wave of incursions by Fulani herdsmen into many areas of the Agogo Traditional area.
Nana’s grant of land to Alhaji Grusah and five (5) other cattle owners opened the flood gates for many others to also bring in their herds of cattle and Fulani herdsmen onto our land.
The Fulani herdsmen this time came in with vengeance and destroyed farms, polluted water bodies, raped girls and women, engaged in armed robbery and killed people with reckless abandon and went scot free.
The people of Agogo and its surrounding villages, as usual, complained, protested and appealed to the government to flush the Fulanis out of their lands, but it did not care a hoot! The Agogo Youth Association, Concerned Citizens of Agogo, Agogoman Mma Kuo Local and the people of Agogo went on a very huge protest march to demand an end to the Fulani menace in their traditional area. The local police panicked and fired live bullets into the crowd of protestors, injuring several people. This led to disturbances in the town. The Regional Security Council (REGSEC) of Ashanti set up a committee to inquire into the Fulani issues in Agogo, and the causes of the disturbances of 30th April, 2010. The committee, referred to as “Dadson Committee”, submitted its report to the REGSEC on 31st May, 2010.
The recommendations of the Dadson Committee were accepted by the REGSEC but it refused, or decided not to implement them. The Committee made a lot of far-reaching recommendations, including:
1) That “The Fulani herdsmen and their cattle should be flushed out of the entire Afram Plains because of the uncontrollable nature of their activities”
2) That “The indiscriminate purported sale or lease of government lands (Forest Reserve) by the Omanhene of Agogo Traditional Area, his elders and the Registrar should be referred to the appropriate House of Chiefs”.
For almost a year, the Ashanti Regional Security Council did not take any action on the recommendations of the Dadson Committee. Meanwhile, the peaceful protestations against the Fulani menace and the call on the government by the people of Agogo to flush the Fulani herdsmen out of their lands continued.
On 13th February, 2011 the Agogoman Mma Kuo Local, at a meeting held at the Agogo Community Centre, passed a resolution demanding quick action on the Report of the Dadson Committee. It was addressed to the Minister of Interior, with copies to the following:
1) The Chief of Staff, Office of the President, 2) The Vice-President, 3)The Majority Leader in Parliament, 4) The Minister of Information, 5)The Coordinator, National Security Council, 6) His Highness, Otumfour Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, Kumasi, 7) The Chairman, National House of Chiefs, Accra, 8) The Ashant Regional Minister, Kumasi, 9) The Chairman Council of State, 11) The Inspector General of Police, 12) The Ashanti Regional Police Commander, 13) The Ashanti Regional Security Council, 14) The Member of Parliament, Asante-Akim North Constituency,15)The Chairman, Municipal Security Council, Kononogo, 16) The Army Commander, 4BN, Kumasi, 17) The Registrar, Agogo Traditional Council, 18)The District Police Commander, Agogo,
19) The Hon. Minister, Works and Housing.
There was no response from the government; neither did it act on the blatant abuse of the fundamental human rights of the people of Agogo by alien Fulani herdsmen.
Then, on 14th March 2011, Nana Akuako Sarpong, acting in his capacity as the president of the Agogo Traditional Council, and also to save his face in view of the mounting pressure, wrote to Alhaji Grusah and the 5 other cattle owners, as well as “all other cattlemen (owners)” on the Agogo Stool Land.
The letter states, among other things:
1) “We entered into an agreement with you and granted land to you on Political and Economic issues to rear cattle on Agogo Stool Land on experimental basis…..some years back”.
2) “You have breached all the conditions and the basis upon which the said grant was made, i.e. failure on your part to fence the land and also dig a well to provide water for the animals causing the animals to move from the allocated site to destroy water bodies and farms of residents, not to mention alleged cases of threats and other inhumane behaviours”.
3) “You have, therefore, created an atmosphere whereby we could no longer contain you and your cattle within our farming areas”.
4) “By this notice, you are to evacuate with cattle and leave farther way from the farming areas on Agogo Stool Land latest by the 29th of March, 2011, failure of which would compel us to forcibly drive you away from the area”.
Alhaji Grusah and the 5 other cattle owners treated Nana Akuoko Sarpong’s letter with contempt. The 29th March, 2011 deadline came to pass! In the meantime, Fulani activities continued on our lands; tension mounted in Agogo areas and reached a crescendo. The general security situation became highly explosive! And, as expected as usual in such situations, military and police detachments were brought to Agogo ostensibly on a cattle evacuation exercise. But after their several months’ stay in Agogo, the Fulani herdsmen and their herds of cattle still remained on Agogo lands. It turned out that the soldiers and policemen rather came to protect the Fulani and their cattle from possible reprisals by the people of Agogo.
The people of Agogo, therefore, became more convinced then, that the government would not flush out the lawless and criminal Fulani herdsmen and their cattle from the Agogo Traditional area. The only option left for the solution of their predicament was to apply to the High Court for redress.
Therefore, eight (8) farmers representing farmers in seven (7) principal villages in the Agogo Traditional area applied to the Kumasi High Court (Lands Division) for an order for the protection of their fundamental human rights and freedoms by the state under Article 33(1) and (2) of the 1992 Constitution.
The High Court (Land Division ) sitting at Kumasi on Friday the 20th day of January, 2012 ruled in favour of the farmers as follows:
“The Court hereby issues mandatory injunction directed at the REGSEC, Ashanti Region, (and by implication the Regional Coordinating Council and the Executive branch of Ghana) to take immediate, decisive efficacious and efficient action to flush out all cattle in the following villages and localities in the Agogo Traditional Area in the Ashanti-Akim North Municipality: Abrewapong, Mankala, Nyamebekyere, Kowereso, Adoniemu, Bebuso and Brahabebome”.
“The only exceptions are cattle that have been properly confined in a permitted locality”.
“Anyone who engages in a trade must be ready for it. Those who rear the cattle must also do so properly. That means, confining the cattle and feeding them at the confined area. The time has come to end the nomadic cattle rearing tradition in this country. It sharply conflicts with the rights and activities of food crop farmers who constitute the majority”.
“Any cattle farmer without the means to confine his cattle and fend for them is not ready for that business, and must get out of that business for another”.
In concluding, the Court admonished: “Professionalism and propriety cannot only be demanded of politicians, judges, lawyers, doctors, policemen, teachers and the like. Farmers, painters, cobblers and everyone living under the constitution must act with propriety and respect the rights of his neighbour. The time of lamentations should be over. The state ought to act decisively on the canker and now!”
Justice Eric Baah, Justice of the High Court presided over the case.
Immediately after the court ruling, the Ashanti Regional Security Council set up an eleven-member committee on 31st January, 2012 “to immediately workout a Fulani cattle evacuation plan and submit recommendations for further action by REGSEC”.
Members of the committee included a representative each of the Agogo Traditional Council, Agogoman Mma Kuo Local, the Concerned Youth of Agogo, and the Agogo Youth Association. The cattle owners in the Agogo Afram Plains were represented by Alhaji Karimu Grusah and Alhaji Mierago.
The committee – Agogo Fulani Cattle Evacuation Plan Committee – was inaugurated on 7th February, 2012 with the following terms of reference:
- “To work-out an evacuation plan for immediate flushing out of the Fulani from the villages mentioned (in the High Court order)
- Make any recommendations which in its view would prevent the cattle from returning to the areas.”
The committee submitted its final report and recommendations to the Ashanti REGSEC on 8th June, 2012. It recommended two alternative plans of evacuation, namely,
PLAN A: Voluntary vacation of the designated localities by the cattle owners and the Fulani herdsmen with their cattle OR (failing which) PLAN B: (the last resort) Forceful ejection of the cattle, and consequently the Fulani herdsmen, by the security agencies.
Both plans, and other recommendations, were accepted by the REGSEC for implementation. But more than five (5) years now, the Ashanti REGSEC is yet to implement the recommendations of the committee set up. And the order by the High Court (Land Division), Kumasi, given on 20th January, 2012 still remains to be complied with by the REGSEC, Ashanti Region, (and by implication the Regional Coordinating Council and the Executive branch of Ghana). It has thus failed or refused “to take immediate decisive efficacious and efficient action to flush out all cattle” in “Abrewapong, Mankala, Nyamebekyere, Kowireso, Adoniemu, Bebuso and Brahabebome in the Agogo Traditional Area in the Ashanti-Akim North Municipality (now District)”.
For how long must the people of Agogo continue to suffer from the humiliation and brutalities by the criminal, alien Fulani herdsmen? Are we no longer Ghanaians? Do we not deserve to be protected by the state of Ghana? We have been intimidated for far too long, and now we are being dispossessed of our lands by these Fulani herdsmen heavily armed by their masters, the cattle owners. And who are the owners of the large herds of cattle ravaging our lands and farms?
Cattle rearing, like galamsey, is undertaken by very powerful and influential people in the country. Wealthy butchers in Accra, Nkawkaw, Konogo, Kumasi, powerful traditional rulers, army and police officers, civil and public officers, businessmen, some Fulanis in the Agogo Zongo susptected to be aliens, and a few residents of Agogo are the owners of herds of cattle in the Agogo Traditional area. Among the cattle owners in Agogo is a local politician who is alleged to be cashing in on the current influx of cattle into our traditional area by receiving other people’s cattle into his kraal on the outskirts of Agogo for keeping, for a fee or in kind.
The people of Agogo are aware of the intense lobbying going on in the corridors of power by these powerful men to get the government to allow their herds of cattle and the Fulani herdsmen to remain on the Agogo lands.
But the chiefs and people of Agogo are fully resolved not to cede an inch of their lands to any cattle owner and their Fulani herdsmen and cattle! They have over-stayed their welcome!
The security situation in the Agogo Traditional area is now very volatile with the coming of the harmattan, dry season.
We, therefore, humbly appeal to His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP government to act now on the Kumasi High Court (Land Division) order of 20th January, 2012 to forestall any further bloodshed on Agogo soil.
The NPP government might have plans to solve the issue of the Fulani herdsmen menace in the country in general, but the case of the people of Agogo is unique in many respects.
The people of Agogo, especially the youth, have been pushed hard to the wall by the Fulani herdsmen for far too long, so hard that they are now not allowed to even farm on their own lands! They have been peaceful and law-abiding all these years in the face of wanton aggression by alien, lawless Fulani herdsmen but have now resolved to fight back in self-defence and reclaim their lands even at the cost of their lives!
By Agogoman Mma Kuo Local and Agogo Worldwide Association