Economy

Gichangi set to get new powers over spy agency

NIS director-general Michael Gichangi (left) and Inspector- General of Police David Kimaiyo. Photo/FILE
NIS director-general Michael Gichangi (left) and Inspector- General of Police David Kimaiyo. Photo/FILE 

National Intelligence Service (NIS) boss Michael Gichangi is set to be offered new powers in the running of the spy agency in attempts to boost information gathering and communication briefs.

Mr Gichangi will take over some roles like approving promotions, transfers and disciplinary actions, which are currently handled by the National Security Council.

He will also develop regulations that will guide the use of firearms in NIS, management of funds as well as distribution and organisation of intelligence gathering.

These roles are also handled by the council, whose membership includes the NIS director general, the Attorney General and ministers for Finance, Foreign Affairs and Interior.

The council’s membership has been expanded to include the secretary to the Cabinet, a position currently occupied by Francis Kimemia.

The changes come after a parliamentary inquiry called for a new body to coordinate between intelligence and security agencies after blaming failures in handling of the Westgate mall attack in September on poor communication and inadequate preparations.

The amendments are contained in the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2014 published by Majority Leader Aden Duale last week. The Bill will be introduced in the House soon after sittings resume Tuesday.

A series of bomb and grenade attacks have been blamed on weak intelligence. The parliamentary inquiry said security services were warned about an impending attack but “there was general laxity among the police over terror alerts” in the run up to the September 21 Westgate raid that left 67 people dead.

The report called for a new “Directorate of National Security, with membership drawn from all the security agencies.

The changes to the NIS law will give officer power to listen in on people’s phone conversations without having to seek permission from a judge of the High Court.

The agency is also seeking to expand its mandate so that it can investigate, monitor or interfere with a person’s private communication if they are investigating them.

This implies that the material obtained by the intelligence service can be used as evidence if the person under investigation is arraigned.