The National Intelligence Service (NIS) Director General designate Noordin Haji declined to divulge his net worth during his vetting session by the National Assembly’s Departmental Committee on Defence, Intelligence and Foreign Relations saying could become a matter of “national security” in the near future if he succeeds in getting the job.
While appearing before the vetting committee yesterday, Haji who is yet to relinquish the position of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) even after his nomination to be the next spymaster boss by president William Ruto was also taken to task for withdrawal of high profile graft cases involving senior government officials and politicians associated to the ruling Kenya Kwanza administration.
Instead, after the committee chairman Nelson Koech told Haji to state his wealth for the purposes of having it on the record, the DPP instead requested to be allowed to present a summation of his financial income to just the committee alone.
“Honourable chair, I was going to request, considering the sensitivity of the office that I’m going to hold, that I give this to the committee…it might be a national security issue at some point.” Haji submitted.
At one point, Saboti Member of Parliament (MP) Caleb Amisi, a committee member asked Haji if his nomination sails through, how certain Kenyans should be that he would not drop high profile intelligence involving senior people for political expediency.
If his nomination is approved, Haji outlined promotion of human based intelligence collection while still promoting tech-based intelligence collection, terrorism, violent extremism and economic crimes as some of his priority agendas if appointed the next country’s NIS boss.
He also expressed intentions to review recruitment criteria into the NIS to cater for low cadre officers who can gather intelligence even from the remote and far flung areas notably the less developed arid and semi-arid areas where technology can do little to address the contemporary security threats posed in such remote areas.
“We might have to recruit people who finished Form Four and not just confine ourselves to degree and diploma holders.” Haji said.
On withdrawal of graft cases involving Kenya Kwanza leaders including the Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Haji said withdrawal was a constitutional power he was given and anyone who would question can go to court.
“The issue of withdrawal does not mean that we only targeted the mighty. The judges have the final say.” Haji noted.
According to Haji, withdrawal of cases was normal saying 2019/20, a total of 10,600 cases were withdrawn from court while in 2020/2021, a total of 18,750 cases were also withdrawn. He attributed the high number of cases (25,716 cases) –during the 2021/2022 to the Covid-19 pandemic that prompted the decongestion of prisons.
He blamed some of the investigative officers for deliberately misleading his office.
“Some of the documents examined by the Document Examiners were done fraudulently through coercion by their in-charge. As ODPP we don’t have the capacity to do that.” The DPP said.
Further, he claimed to have written to the Inspector General of Police to conduct investigations and said any officer found culpable will be charged in court.
“We will be able to transform the criminal justice system to convert intelligence into evidence because I think the intelligence that is there cannot be used in courts. However, it can be acted on so that it can be changed into evidence.” Haji added.
Ando on the Shakahola Forest murders, Haji said the NIS provided timely intelligence and action was taken but the principal suspect Paul Nthenge Mackenzie was released on bond by the court.
“I think there’s misconception, NIS did give timely evidence on Shakhahola and as DPP we were able to prosecute some of these cases including that of Mackenzie. Unfortunately, he was granted bail and it was not adequate to safeguard from the atrocities.” Haji added.
If approved, Haji will succeed his predecessor retired Major General Wachira Kameru who retired after serving as NIS boss from 2014.
Previously, Kameru served as Director of Military Intelligence at the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF).