The Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Simon Osei-Mensah, has assured residents of Agogo in the Ashanti Akyem North municipality that the government will implement the 2012 Kumasi High Court ruling that ordered the evacuation of herdsmen and their cattle from Agogo.
The minister, who is also the head of the Ashanti Regional Security Council (REGSEC), stated this when he led members of the REGSEC to visit Agogo on Wednesday, following the unrest in the area which resulted in the shooting of four security men last Monday.
“We are going to apply and implement the ruling of the court to the letter,” Mr Osei-Mensah said, and appealed to the people to remain calm while the government took steps to resolve the issue.
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Last Monday, four security men, comprising three soldiers and a policeman, who were on Operation Cowleg operations in the Agogo area, were shot by some unknown assailants.
Operation Cowleg, launched about a decade ago, is the government’s intervention to use security personnel to flush out herdsmen from farming communities.
On January 20, 2012, the Kumasi High Court ordered the REGSEC to “take immediate, decisive, efficacious and efficient action to flush out all cattle in the following villages and localities in the Agogo Traditional Area”.
The villages are Abrewapong, Mankala, Nyamebekyere, Koweriso, Adoniem, Bebuso and Brahabebome.
Mr Osei-Mensah said he would instruct state attorneys to look for the court ruling and what the previous administration had done about it, for the Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) to determine the way forward.
He said the court’s directives were mandatory, adding: “I do not want to be in contempt of court and so I will ensure that the ruling is implemented.”
The regional minister asked the people to go about their activities without fear, as the REGSEC had beefed up the number of security personnel in the area to provide adequate security for them.
The security personnel, he said, were also to ensure that the herdsmen were evacuated from the area, as recommended by the court.
He said the REGSEC was aware of the perennial problem, for which reason it activated Operation Cowleg very early to deal with the situation.
He said Agogo was very important in the scheme of affairs of the country, particularly in the government’s policy of Planting for Food and Jobs.
Besides, he said, the municipality would soon benefit from the government’s One-district, One-warehouse policy for farmers to store their produce.
He wondered what the use of the warehouse would be if herdsmen and their cattle were allowed to destroy farms.
The Obaahemaa of the Agogo Traditional Area, Nana Juaben Serwaa Afrakoma Kisi Obobi, told the REGSEC that the residents could no longer live with the herdsmen and that it was high time the latter were removed from the community.
She said aside from the harm caused by the cattle to farms, the residents also suffered from attacks from the nomadic herdsmen, while some women ended up being raped on their farms.
According to her, the people could no longer bear the challenges associated with cattle-rearing by the Fulanis and appealed to the government to get the herdsmen out of the community.
Her point was backed by the Krontihene of Agogo, Nana Kwame Nti, who also accused the herdsmen of causing so many problems in the community, adding that the traditional council had not allocated any land to anyone to rear cattle or for grazing and questioned the locus of the herdsmen on the land.
Rule of law
The Ashanti Regional Police Commander, Commissioner of Police (COP) Mr Ken Yeboah, for his part, assured the community that last Monday’s incident would not dampen the resolve of security personnel to rid the area of herdsmen.
He said more men would be sent to beef up the numbers in the area and to continue the operation and bring it to a successful end, but cautioned the residents not to take the law into their own hands and attack any herdsman.