The Asante Akyem North District Security Council [DISEC] plans to give security personnel the green light to fire on nomadic herdsmen as part of efforts by a task force to evict cattle in the district.
This follows the wounding of three soldiers and a police officer, after they were reportedly shot by a nomadic herdsman.
Speaking to the media after a DISEC meeting on Tuesday, the Asante Akyem North District Chief Executive, Francis Oti Boateng said security personnel were now focused on the “total evacuation” of the about 45,000 cattle in the area.
When he assumed office in 2017, he gave the cattle owners the choice to confine the animals in a ranch or evacuate within five months.
But now, he feels more stringent directives are needed in light of the recent acts of violence.
“The first command was that, go and flush the animals from the land but they were not ordered to kill animals or also kill Fulanis. Now that the Fulanis are firing back, we have to restructure the first order so that now, they will go into full aggression and shoot anything on sight. That is the new order we are looking for,” he said.
Thus, the Asante Akyem North has notified the Ashanti Regional Security Council of its intentions and is waiting for approval.
“We cannot overly expose our military men onto such highly dangerous situations,” Mr. Oti Boateng stressed.
Before the recent tensions, cattle owners had claimed that the security task-force deliberately killed over 100 cattle and have sold out some to indigenes of the area.
The tensions over the cattle and herdsmen have existed for over two decades, with indigenes of Agogo and its environs accusing herdsmen of allowing their cattle to graze and destroy farmlands, which are their only source of livelihood.
Caution to farmers
The Member of Parliament for the area, Andy Appiah-Kubi espoused some confidence in the security personnel to evict the cattle from the area once and for all.
But for the time being, he also advised farmers to stop going to farms for the time being until the situation normalises.
“If they are confidently shooting at security personnel, then I don’t think that it is too safe to allow people to go on their normal duties so let us stabilise this situation and I am sure that within the next few days, the situation will normalise and then, we will provide the necessary security for them to go back to their normal duties,” Mr. Appiah-Kubi stated.
‘No confidence in police commander’
The two spoke after reports that the Asante Akyem North District Police Commander, ASP Samuel Azugu, had been transferred due to his failure to effectively address the conflict and claims of bias towards the herdsmen.
Commenting on the development Mr. Appiah Kubi, said the former Police Commander had lost the confidence of the people.
“I personally did not have confidence in him and I can assure you that not many people in this community have confidence in him… Having spoken to a number of people in this community, we are sure that we have not received the best of service from him and therefore we are not confident he can handle security in this community,” the MP remarked.