Fulani herdsmen scampered for safety when residents of Boti in the Yilo Krobo Municipality of the Eastern Region embarked on an exercise to forcefully evict them from the community.
This followed complaints that the herders had been leading their cows to destroy farm produce in the area.
The residents armed with guns, machetes, and clubs and accompanied by the Dadematseme (community leaders) and Assemblymen for Boti Electoral Area, Abraham Narh and Akorwu-Bana Electoral Area, Michael Ahusa Tetteh, advanced on the herdsmen who had erected ranches on a 24-acre piece of land at the countryside.
The herdsmen, who left their cows behind, were pursued by the angry farmers.
The actions of the residents followed what they say were several failed attempts to stop the herdsmen and their animals from causing damage to their farmlands.
Over the weekend, the locals traced the herdsmen to the farms.
But the herdsmen who spotted the advancing group from a distance, fled into the bush for fear of their lives, leaving the cattle to disperse in all directions.
The locals destroyed the ranches of cattle and set fire to some personal properties.
The unrelenting residents then embarked on a three-hour manhunt through the farms and bushes for the herdsmen and their 300 cattle to no avail.
Though some of the cattle were sighted, searches for their guides proved futile.
Eight of the herdsmen later emerged from their hideout in the bush to engage the angry locals and the leadership of the community.
Assemblyman for the Boti Electoral Area, Abraham Narh explained in an interview that the herdsmen, about six months ago, began occupying portions of the farmlands with their cattle. This resulted in the wanton destruction of the lands with many of the farmers expressing anger at the situation.
“People keep on coming to me… [complaining that] people are destroying our farms, our water bodies are being destroyed every now and then, our people are falling sick,” said the Assemblyman, adding that he reported the issue to the municipal environmental health officer for redress. However, this yielded no results.”
Left with no other option, he said the community was forced to resort to the use of force to drive away the animals and their owners.
He was convinced that the exercise achieved its objective of sending the strongest signal and the activities of the herdsmen would no longer be tolerated by the people of Boti.
Mr. Narh said they’ll go back to the table to determine their next line of action.
He warned that though the people are law-abiding, they’re not cowards and that nobody should hold any member of the community responsible should anything “untoward” happen if the pertinent issues are not addressed.
He called on various stakeholders to rise and call the herdsmen in order to maintain peace in the area.
Dadematse of Boti-Bornya, Stephen Osei in an interview with GhanaWeb said efforts to get the Yilo Krobo Municipal Assembly to act on the situation have proven futile, hence the action taken by the community.
According to him, though the community was ready to engage the owners of the cattle, they wouldn’t hesitate to use force to evict them if they failed to cooperate with them.
He commended the people for not harming the herdsmen even in the face of the destruction.
Some of the bitter farmers who spoke in an interview said crops such as yam, and maize, among others have been destroyed by the animals.
Leader of the Fulani herdsmen, Larib Amadu admitted that they led the animals beyond the piece of land they acquired for the purpose of rearing the cattle, resulting in the destruction of farms and the water source of their hosts.
He, however, insisted that they bought the land from its previous owner and did not intrude as alleged.
Though the residents insisted that they leave immediately, he asked for time to search for and gather their cattle which had scattered in all directions.
According to him, they have in the past adequately compensated farmers whose yields were destroyed by the cows.
A team of police personnel from the Asesewa District Police Command, led by Detective/Inspector Richmond Agyemang, later arrived at the scene to engage with members of the community and the herdsmen.
He said though he shared in the pain of the aggrieved farmers, they must nevertheless desist from taking the law into their own hands.
A meeting with the District Police Commander has been scheduled for next Tuesday to amicably resolve the impasse.