Herdsmen from the Sehelian region have invaded Wenchi in the Bono Region with large herds of cattle, causing destruction to farm crops and water bodies in the area.
Large swathes of farmlands in a number of communities, including Nchiraa, Kyiridi, Subinso and Abobie, have been destroyed.
The development has compelled the Wenchi Municipal Assembly to declare ‘war’ on the activities of the nomads.
The Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Dr Prince Kwakye Afriyie, told the Daily Graphic at Wenchi last Friday that the herdsmen had been setting fire on farms, while their cattle had, also, been feeding on cashew nuts and denying farmers from reaping the needed profit from their toil.
“Cashew is the main source of income for farmers in this area and we will not sit down for the Fulani herdsmen to threaten the very economic fabric of Wenchi,” he stated.
Dr Afriyie said the invasion of the nomadic herdsmen had been fuelled by some middlemen who collected money and cattle from the nomads and provided them a safe haven for their cattle.
“As of last Thursday, seven of such middlemen, according to briefings from the police, had been arrested and granted bail,” the MCE stated, adding that the names of other prominent citizens had also popped up as part of the syndicate.
Dr Afriyie said for the past three years, the assembly had tried to advise the middlemen not to bring the Fulani herdsmen and their cattle to the municipality.
“Anytime we make an arrest, we have opinion leaders, some of them are chiefs, among others, coming to plead but we have seen that the problem is escalating.
“This time, we have changed our strategy by going for the middlemen,” he said.
He explained that some of the chiefs, opinion leaders and assembly members entered into barter agreements with the herdsmen and collect three, four or five cattle, adding that “this time we are targeting them”.
Dr Afriyie indicated that the security agencies had the names of the middlemen, adding that “we will put them before court and prosecute them”.
He said the Wenchi Divisional Command of the police had been working around the clock to ensure that the cattle were driven away from the municipality.
Dr Afriyie stated, however, that some community leaders had also given the assurance that by Thursday, February 20, they would drive away the cattle from their areas.
He said notwithstanding such assurances: “We are not going to stop our team from pursuing the Fulani herdsmen and their cattle.”
Dr Afriyie disclosed that a 200-acre cashew farm, which was destroyed by fire about two weeks ago in the municipality, had been linked to activities of Fulani herdsmen.
“When they come, they set fire into the bush and wait for some time for the weeds to sprout for their cattle to graze. That is what I believe led to the burning of the 200-acre cashew farms and we have similar stories from other areas in the municipality,” Dr Afriyie stated.
The MCE lamented that the physical and economic damage that had been caused by activities of the Fulani herdsmen in the area was huge.
“From the way things are going, if we do not take drastic measures, we will have a ‘new Agogo’ in the Wenchi municipality which will come with its security implications.
If we fail, next year we will be in serious danger,” he said.
Dr Afriyie said a directive from the National Security was that “wherever the cattle came from, we should drive them back. If we drive them to another municipality, the authorities there also have the responsibility to drive them away until they leave the territories of the country.”
Source: graphic online