Anxiety in NIS over Gichangi replacement
Several who spoke to the Star said it does not help to boost morale and reward hard work if none of their eight directors is considered for the top job.
The eight directors are Francis Kirinya Mwongo (Internal), Joseph Kamau (Operations), Chris Mburu (External), Moses Tenai (Counterintelligence), Alexander Muteshi (Analysis and Production), Major Kosen (ICT), Samuel Otieno (Administration) and Major Mativo (National Intelligence Academy).
“When you are the people who handle all intelligence gathering for years and then an outsider is brought in to be your boss, people will definitely feel unconsidered,” said an officer who cannot be named. “Are we just here doing nothing? Why do they think that someone else can do a better job? If a military person is to come here, let him first retire from the military otherwise he might still take orders from elsewhere.”
Gichangi announced his resignation on personal grounds last week, and President Uhuru Kenyatta said his replacement will be named later.
It has however been alleged that military chief Gen Julius Karangi, who reportedly did not enjoy a cordial working relationship with Gichangi, is pushing for the head of Military Intelligence, Maj Gen Philip Kameru, to succeed Gichangi.
“At least Gichangi first worked in NCTC [the National Counterterrorism Centre] before joining us. But to bring someone directly from the military to be our boss is not good. And why must it come from the person who is fighting us? Do you think we shall give him the necessary support?” one officer remarked.
Gichangi was Karangi’s fellow officer at the Kenya Air Force, where the retiring NIS boss was a war jet pilot and the military head was a navigator. Their relationship is said to have deteriorated to its lowest levels during and after the terrorist attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall last year.
The NIS officers who spoke to the Star acknowledged that while not all the eight directors can qualify to be DGI, Kirinya has been sitting in the National Security Advisory Council on Gichangi’s behalf. Kirinya has held the position of director Internal for eight years.
Of the four DGIs since 1965, only James Kanyotu and Kivuvani were police officers. Kanyotu was the intelligence chief during President Jomo Kenyatta’s administration (1965-1978), and part of Daniel Moi’s (1978-1991, Moi ruled until 2002).
He succeeded Bernard Hinga, who had been appointed first African Commissioner of Police, and served for 26 years, from January 1965 to 1991, when he was dismissed by Moi.
Kanyotu headed the Special Branch, later the Directorate of Security Intelligence, both of which were accused of massive human rights abuses, including detentions without trial.
He was succeeded by William Kivuvani, who in turn handed over to Wilson Boinett, who served as the first Director of the then National Security Intelligence Service.
“Although Boinett came from outside as well, he was a Brigadier in the military, he at least worked under Kivuvani for some months. So when he was appointed the boss, it was not so bad,” the NIS officers said.
Gichangi took over from Boinett. When he left the Air Force, he first worked with the NCTC before joining NIS.
Boinett’s name has come up as a possible temporary replacement for Gichangi.
Boinett is credited with streamlining operations at the spy agency that resulted in thwarting many attacks and resolving insecurity issues in the country during most of Moi’s long reign and Mwai Kibaki’s earliest years in office (2002-2005).
Sources within security circles have intimated that Boinett is being looked at as a transitional replacement as President Kenyatta scouts for the most suitable replacement for Gichangi.