The Editorial Board Chairman of The Nation Newspapers, Mr. Sam Omatseye, has said the creation of a civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) is a potent measure to checkmate kidnappers and other criminals in the Southwest.
He said the deployment of drones to track down men of the underworld in the region has become expedient with the woes of the intelligence agencies to stem insecurity afflicting the country.
The frontline journalist said if these measures are taken, they would boost the intelligence gathering for security agencies in combing the hideouts of kidnappers, killers and other criminals.
Omatseye said the abatement of the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast was boosted by civilian JTF constituted by former Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima in collaboration with the military.
The multiple award-winning columnist, who was represented by Obanla of Ijesa Isu Ekiti, Oba Gabriel-Oso Adeniyi, spoke yesterday while delivering a lecture, titled: To Secure, First We Have To Love: Herdsmen, Kidnappers, Boko Haram and the Climate of Fear.
The occasion was the maiden edition of a public lecture organised by the Faculty of Arts, Ekiti State University (EKSU) in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital.
He added that the bombings and killings in the Northeast, particularly in Borno State, could have persisted but for fearlessness of the locals who formed the civilian JTF for robust intelligence gathering.
“With each afraid of the other, we can’t stop banditry or herdsmen crisis, or even Boko Haram. We need a leadership of fairness and fearlessness.
“What did the former Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima do to drive out Boko Haram among the people? They were the civilian JTF. We need drones as intelligence when the military has failed us.
“We need to create civilian equivalents of the JTF in the Southwest and other parts of the country. The JTF can gather intelligence about the whereabouts of these killers; the drones can then monitor where exactly they are and the Air Force and soldiers can go to work,” Omatseye said.
He added: “On the military level, why are they not using drones to target and isolate and knock out hoodlums? Are they not human beings? Are they not living among us? Are they spirits?”
On why the herdsmen clashes and kidnapping might be difficult to resolve or permanently stamped out, Omatseye said: “Do we have the political will that will give us permanent peace to these crises? If we have the political will, then there will be peace; otherwise, there won’t be.”
The frontline journalist disagreed with the call by the Prof Ango Abdullahi-led Northern Elders Forum (NEF) that all herders in the South should return to the North for their safety.
“Sending herders away from the Southwest or any other part of the South is not the solution. If they go, where would they be settled? Where would the South get cow meat from?
“I believe we must learn how to coexist. But we must also build an atmosphere of mutual trust for us to be able to benefit from each other.”
Omatseye advised Nigerians to see security as everybody’s business and not the sole responsibility of the government and security agencies.
Acting Vice Chancellor Prof. Olubunmi Ajayi said no society, which puts value on human lives, would underrate insecurity with its current tension across the country.
“This is an issue that bothers all the citizens of the nation, regardless of race and tribes. So, it is the right issue to discuss,” she said.