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September 26, 2018

LENKU, OMAMO MINISTRIES TO BE MERGED

MERGER: Defence Cabinet secretary Rachel Omamo with with interior security's Joseph Ole Lenku during a press briefing. Photo/File
MERGER: Defence Cabinet secretary Rachel Omamo with with interior security's Joseph Ole Lenku during a press briefing. Photo/File

THE Interior Ministry will be merged with Defence to create a super Ministry of Homeland Security coordinating the fight against escalating insecurity and terrorism.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration is under intense pressure from both politicians and the public to take decisive action to protect Kenyans.

The new ministry will bring the Kenya Defence Forces, the National Police Service and National Intelligence Service under a single roof.

The merger and improved co-ordination of security agencies is the Jubilee Government’s new strategy to tackle rising insecurity, according to sources in the national security establishment.

The President spent most of Wednesday and Thursday meeting security chiefs who proposed a number of approaches.

“The Homeland ministry is under serious consideration and could be unveiled before too long,” a security chief familiar with the plan told the Star. It was not immediately known when it would be operational.

Under the arrangement, KDF will be responsible for border management, police will concentrate on internal security and the NIS will continue gathering intelligence for both the KDF and Police Service.

Kenya’s soft security under-belly has been exposed in many criminal and terror attacks.

The latest was in Mandera county on November 22 when suspected al Shabaab militiamen hijacked a Nairobi-bound bus, executing 28 passengers in a dawn raid near the Somalia border. That attack and others forced military deployment in various places, including West Pokot and Lamu counties.

In creation of an overarching Homeland Security Ministry, Interior CS Joseph ole Lenku and his Defence colleague Rachel Omamo, as well as PSs Monicah Juma (Interior) and Mutea Iringo (Defence), will be either sacked or redeployed.

Ten days ago, Lenku made a five-day trip to Israel, accompanied by officials from Counter-terrorism, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and NIS to familiarise themselves with best practices in homeland security operations.

The Kenyan delegation consulted public security and transport ministers and toured Ben Gurion International Airport. Israel was chosen since it faces hostility from neighbours but manages to maintain high security and a level of normalcy.

The Star asked Lenku for comment on the proposed ministry but he declined, saying he was not in a position to discuss planned changes in government.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said: “The creation of any new ministry is the the President’s prerogative. I can’t talk about it.” He said State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu was in a better position to comment.

However, Esipisu could not be reached and was said to be out of the country on assignment. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Chief of Staff and Private Secretary Jomo Gecaga and Head of Civil Service Joseph Kinyua did not respond to enquiries.

Government sources said the decision to create the Homeland Security Ministry was reached after the Westgate Mall attack on September 27, 2013.

In the aftermath, the three security agencies blamed each other for the bungled counter-terrorism response. The NIS blamed the police for failing to act on intelligence, while police accused KDF of mismanaging their operation.

Sources said the Homeland move will also combine and make more efficient use of resources and equipment. The Star has also established there are plans to merge the regular police and the paramilitary Administration Police into a single command.

This means the AP will be trained afresh and deployed in the National Police Service. National Police Service Commission chairman Johnston Kavuludi last month hinted at a merger. That prompted protests by a section of AP officers.

Yesterday Kiharu MP Irungu Kang’ata said creation of the proposed ministry was timely and positive, adding it would coordinate security countrywide. Not everyone is supportive.

International Centre for Policy and Conflict director Ndung’u Wainana dismissed the plan, saying what is needed is a total overhaul of top security chiefs and the recruitment of new security strategists.

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