Special Branch was formally created in 1952 and operated under the commissioner of police. It acted as a secret intelligence unit for the Colonial Government during the Mau Mau uprising. In 1963, Special Branch was made independent from the Police Force, while in 1969, its operations were formalized through a Presidential Charter, which defined its roles and functions.
Directorate Of Security Intelligence (DSI)
In 1986, the Special Branch was transformed into the Directorate of Security Intelligence (DSI) through a Presidential charter. However, structures and organization of the Special Branch were retained.
The National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) was created in January 1999, as a disciplined civilian agency following the enactment of The National Security Intelligence Service Act, 1998. The NSIS was a successor institution to the DSI, which was joined by the Liaison Department, an erstwhile State House based intelligence Unit that had Military and Civilian staff.
The changes were necessitated by the need to come up with a more open and professional intelligence Service, especially in the face of growing national security challenges such as terrorism and other forms of organized crime. Whereas the mandate remained more or less the same, the country’s foremost Intelligence organ formally ceased to be an adjunct of the Police Force and concentrated on advisory roles— its main mandate being to identify and report on threats to the security of the State.
(View NSIS ACT here)
Brig. (Rtd.) Wilson A.C. Boinett was appointed as the first NIS Director General on 19th January 1999 for a 5-year term. He was re-appointed for a further term of two years on 19th January 2004. The Director General is the principal advisor to the President and the Government of the Republic of Kenya on matters relating to national security and intelligence. He is the head and the accounting officer of the NIS.
NIS UNDER THE NEW CONSTITUTION
The National Intelligence Service (NIS) is a disciplined civilian intelligence agency established under Article 242 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, to be primarily responsible for Security Intelligence and Counter Intelligence, besides performing other functions prescribed by national legislation. Further, the National Intelligence Service Act, 2012, and other legislations have enhanced the Service’s powers and functions, alongside creating several oversight mechanisms.
The Service is expected to provide timely, actionable and quality intelligence to assist in decision making, planning and policy formulation, mainly through identifying National Security threats and opportunities. In fulfillment of these onerous mandates, NIS activities are guided by existing Constitutional, policy, legal and administrative frameworks— all of which require the development of derivative internal policy and administrative documents, and that are regularly revised to take stock of national level frameworks impacting on the Service’s activities.
As a sequel to the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, it became imperative that the Service be managed through various frameworks aligned to the new supreme law. The expanded definition of National Security, the Constitutional anchorage of the Service and its expanded mandate, inter alia, have meant that NIS appropriately re-engineers itself to play its rightful role in National Security.