Among the several threats against pastoralists is cattle theft. It has always existed but over the past years, there have been an increase due to terrorism in the Sahel areas. The armed groups raid the cattle either for their meat or to sell for money.
Cattle theft occurs in Ghana as well but in different ways. It involves pastoralists themselves and farmers as well as robbers. The national chairman of the Ghana national association of cattle farmers, Imam Hanafi Sonde, admitted the issue is a canker in the country.
“I can say that, the problem still persists and we need to give it very serious attention, because the issue has been that, many do not understand the system of pastoralism. Some chiefs giving land that does not directly belong to them to these people and getting their compensation and they create a confusion between the land owners and the herdsmen,” Sonde said.
Imam Hanafi Sonde lamented over the lack of proper justice which contributes to the continuous harassment of pastoralists even though stealing is a crime according to the laws of Ghana. According to him, the perception of people that pastoralists are violent is unfair.
Ask if they are aware of the persistent issues of insecurity of pastoralists and what measures they kept in place to curb them, the Director of animal production in Ghana, Bekoe Edwin acknowledged the existence of the canker.
He said: “We are engaging them because it’s a serious problem that has led to the death of people. Some of these things we have criminal issues, you report to the police if the man comes to steal your cattle, be it a foreigner or a Ghanaian its stealing so you report to the police ant it will be dealt with as criminal issue”.
In Nigeria, the latest threat of pastoralists is kidnapping. Family members of pastoralists are usually kidnapped and huge amount of ransom is demanded. The perception remains that pastoralists have a lot of money hence the kidnapping strategy to collect it. Alhassan A. Jaoji, program coordinator of Confederation of Traditional Stockbreeders Organizations in Africa, regretted the phenomenon is becoming an industry.
“We have what they call the kidnappers, the kidnappers will come and pick you or the head of the family and they will now demand 50 million naira or 100 million naira and you can sell all the animals the money will not be enough to free the head of the family and when you don’t respond they will kill the head of the family. Every night I have to be on the watch and when they come, there’s no way I can stop them because they are coming with sophisticated arms. So for you to have your animals secured you have to be closer to town where there is security,” he said.
Meanwhile all the interviewees bemoaned the negative media reportage creates and maintain an insecure environment for pastoralists.
BY: JONAS BIAWURBI