Next NIS chief must not be ex-military, says don

August 15, 2014 2:49 pm
President Uhuru Kenyatta announced Gichangi's resignation on Thursday over what he termed as personal grounds/FILE
President Uhuru Kenyatta announced Gichangi’s resignation on Thursday over what he termed as personal grounds/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 15 – History and International Relations Professor Macharia Munene on Friday suggested that the next Director General of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) does not necessarily have to be an ex-soldier.

Munene argues that the individual should possess both operational and logical skills concerning security matters in the country.

“The appointing authority should also ensure the person is loyal and can be trusted,” the professor told Capital FM News.

“That person should have background on security generally, whether in terms of operations. There is the intellectual side of security. The person should be comfortable at both levels,” he recommended.

According to the professor at the United States International University, the next NIS boss should have the knowledge and skills to analyse security matters and handle challenges facing the sector.

“They may be good at shooting but when an issue comes that requires serious thought and analysis, we need an intellectual. It should be someone who needs to see far and see all the angles of an issue,” he explained.

“Someone doesn’t have to be a soldier,” he asserted.

“There are no two ways about it. The person must be loyal to the president. You don’t want someone who can undermine the president,” Munene warned.

Commenting on the exit of former NIS chief Michael Gichangi, the professor said it was necessary to assess whether intelligence gathered was properly used.

According to him, Gichangi’s responsibility was to gather information and submit it to the implementing authority of investigators.

“The intelligence community always has information, how much weight we put on a particular bit of information is another issue. That’s why you have this friction between the gatherers of intelligence (NIS) and the implementers of what has to be done,” he explained.

Unlike the old Special Branch which had powers to gather intelligence and act on it, the current NIS can only gather intelligence but not act on it but give it to other arms in the security system.

However, Munene advised that the intelligence gathered should be validated to determine if it meets standards that warrant other arms of security to act on it.

“The NIS does not have power to act on the intelligence that it gets, in terms of investigating or arresting people or taking them to court. The question that can be raised is whether the intelligence they have been gathering is specific and actionable,” he asserted.

Questions were raised after the September 21, 2013 attack at the Westgate mall which left 67 people dead and the recent attacks in Mpeketoni, Lamu which also claimed over 90 lives.

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