Tension in Mamprugu as sub-chief faces court over rustling allegation

Tension in Mamprugu as sub-chief faces court over rustling allegation
Source: Eliasu Tanko | Joy News
Date: 10-12-2019 Time: 03:12:31:pm

The chiefs of Mamprugu in the North-East region have expressed outrage at an ongoing trial involving Naa Johnson Tahidu, a member of the traditional council.

Naa Tahidu has been accused of rustling 18 cows from the ranch of a wealthy man, based in northern Burkina Faso.

The case between Mustapha and Naa Tahidu which started in 2017, has been the source of tension in recent months between several chiefs in Mamprugu and some cattle owners living along the borderlines of Bawku and Zebila in the Upper East region.  

Naa Tahidu is standing trial for allegedly leading a group of armed men, to invade villages and camps around Wungu and Janga and rustled a truckload of their cattle and other livestock.

He was said to have violently stormed the herding communities in the West Mamprusi municipality with over 20 men armed with guns and machetes and attacked the cattlemen and their families before carting away the animals in the vehicle. 

An elder son of Mustapha recounting the incident said a four-year-old girl who went missing during the chaos is yet to be found.

"He told the herdsman they came to catch cows, but they pleaded and insisted with him to allow them to call their father but he declined and command his boys to beat [herdsman] up.

"They beat him [herdsman] up and took his mobile phone and tied him under a tree. After that, they chased the women who run helter-skelter before they caught 18 cows. Ten cows got missing while they shot and killed two," Ali Mustapha said.

The truck carrying the cattle was intercepted upon entering Walewale and Naa Tahidu was arrested.

As the head of a committee in charge of the collection of mandatory annual royalties from herders in the area, the chief claimed the herders had evaded payment of the royalties for many years by moving their animals around.

He said the 18 cows were a punitive sanction against their action insisting he was carrying out his mandated duty.

The Mamprugu chiefs have jumped to the defence of one of their own, condemning the trial.

The chiefs have, therefore, threatened to retaliate against all herders in Mamprugu which will include almost the entire area of the Upper East region. 

At a meeting held in Walewale Tabital Pulaaku, an ethnic welfare group of the herders, the chairman of the committee, Yunyoorana Yamyiya Tooka II, said the traditional council was not happy by the court action.

Naa Tahidu speaking at the forum said tensions in the area with the herders could lead to a situation similar to what happened in Agogo, where lots of cattle were shot and killed and herders chased out. 

He cautioned some politicians in the Upper East region, particularly, the Deputy Upper East Region Minister, to stop the alleged interference in traditional matters or be ready to face their retributions. 

General Secretary of the group, Musah Barry, pleaded for calm and assured the chiefs that herders living on their land will continue to pay royalties as agreed. 

The group is scheduled to meet the overlord of the area, Naa Bohagu Mahami Sheriga, for further dialogue.