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Fulani residents in the Upper East region, who are very unhappy about their tribespeople generally being stereotyped in the country as lawless and uncivil amid a recent faceoff in the Ashanti region, have announced their intention to head to court for redress.
They have come up with six requests for government to consider within 20 working days or, in default of the response being sought, would unleash a legal attack together with the Cattle Owners Association of Ghana and some human rights groups.
They spoke to the press Thursday in Bolgatanga, Upper East regional capital, at a conference organised by a non-governmental organisation called Arise for Rights of Fulanis in Ghana (AFROFIG) whose motto, “Humanity is Indivisible”, was boldly dabbed on a banner at the venue for the meeting, the SNNIT Conference Hall.
The confab came on the back of a recent showdown between some Fulani herdsmen and security agencies at Asante Akyem Agogo in the Ashanti region where the Fulanis were accused of shooting and injuring three military officers and one policeman and a government’s security taskforce also was faulted for killing over 1,500 cattle being reared by the Fulanis in a reprisal raid dubbed “Operation Cowleg”.
The meeting saw in attendance a number of businessmen, community development workers and civil servants who were openly proud to identify themselves with their Fulani roots.
“There is an urgent need to remedy the situation. AFROFIG has decided to propose a solution to government. Government, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture as well as the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development should create grazing reserves in our bushes in every district in Ghana for Ghanaians in the cattle industry. Government should fully probe into the matter to get details of the owners of the cattle in Agogo and their names published. Government at the central level should invite all parties in this case for mediation.
“We are appealing to the office of our in-law, the Vice President, and his wife, to intervene to remedy the problem. Government should instruct the immigration officers at our country’s borders to stop intimidating and extorting monies from Fulanis. Government should immediately stop the evacuation of the herdsmen in the forest,” the group strongly demanded in a statement read by its Coordinator and Public Relations Officer, Mohammed Ibrahim Bari Diallo.
The statement, then, warned: “AFROFIG wants government to act upon this proposal within 20 working days or AFROFIG, in collaboration with the Cattle Owners Association of Ghana and other human rights organisations, will head to the court.”
Government’s position on Agogo Clash unacceptable— AFROFIG
Members of the group also defended their tribe, saying Fulanis were as normal and as responsible as any other tribespeople anywhere on the globe.
“Fulanis are the most nomadic ethnic group in the world. They are widespread across West Africa and mostly engage in cattle rearing. Surprisingly in Ghana, human rights of Fulanis are abused almost every hour as if they do not have rights at all.
“Their cattle are mostly shot dead or the herdsmen killed but the police are reluctant to make any arrest because they feel they are not citizens in Ghana. In addition, Fulanis are discriminated against at hospitals, schools, public transports and monies extorted from them at the country’s borders,” the statement claimed.
It added: “The recent unfortunate happenings in Agogo of the Ashanti region of Ghana is unacceptable. The position of the government and the utterances of the Member of Parliament of Agogo to evict the herdsmen at all costs and means, and the declaration of war, are a violation of their human rights. In any case, are the authorities in Agogo saying citizens of Agogo do not own cattle? Is the government saying that cattle rearing is not part of agriculture and that it is not interested in supporting Ghanaians in the cattle industry?”
War Cry won’t help Matters— Group tells Police
Adding his voice to the concerns raised at the confab, Co-founder of the Hope and Faith Foundation and member of the AFROFIG, Abdul-Rahaman Musah Arafat, decried a public war-cry made by a police commander prior to the anti-Fulani raid at Agogo.
“The Ghana Police on Friday 12 January, this year, before the taskforce stormed the Agogo forests to evacuate the Fulanis from the bush, made a statement I was displeased with. The commander in charge said if they got to the bush and saw any leaf shaking and it was a sign of Fulani, they should gun that person down.
“It is bad. Police are trained to protect citizens— not to kill. We are, therefore, appealing to government that the police shouldn’t go that way. The killing is not going to help. The herdsmen themselves don’t own cattle there. They are owned by our own big men in Ghana here. The statement is bad. We, are, therefore appealing to them,” Mr. Arafat stressed.
The group said Fulanis had continued to back Ghana before her independence from colonial control in 1957, citing among many examples a famous welcome Fulanis in Guinea accorded Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, when he sought political asylum in that country after he suffered a military overthrow in 1966 in Ghana.
Mubarak Abubakar, a banker and member of AFROFIG, also mentioned at the news conference that Fulanis had made some remarkable contribution towards human resource development in Ghana by donating educational materials to public schools in the Upper East region and beyond.
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