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President's pick to lead police is a terror expert

By Cyrus Ombati | March 15th 2019 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

When Hillary Nzioki Mutyambai joined the Kenya Police at the age of 27, he never dreamed that he would one day lead the 100,000-strong service.

On Wednesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta nominated Mr Mutyambai to succeed Joseph Boinnet as the Inspector General of the National Police Service (NPS).

Born in 1964 – one year after the country gained independence – Mutyambai joined the police force in 1991. This was his first formal job after graduating from university.

He had been recruited from his Mwala Constituency home in Machakos and hoped to serve his nation. As luck would have it, he was among 12 officers picked to join a course for senior commanders at the Kiganjo Police Training Campus.

After finishing his training at Kiganjo, he served as a regular officer and rose to the rank of superintendent of police before joining the Directorate of Security Intelligence in 1998.

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At the time, the Directorate was a branch of the Kenya Police. It was later delinked.

In the intelligence outfit, Mutyambai continued his steady rise up the ranks to become the deputy director in charge of counter-terrorism in the National Intelligence Service.

It is in this role that Mutyambai is credited with working closely with police and military units in the fight against terrorism.

“Mutyambai comes to the helm of the NPS with vast professional training and experience in the area of counter-terrorism, a skill that the police require, given the prevailing threat environment of terrorism,” said a senior officer.

Besides his Bachelor’s degree, which he earned at the University of Nairobi, Mutyambai also holds a Masters of Arts degree in National Security Policy from the Australian National University — the same institution where Mr Boinnet acquired his Master’s degree.

He has vast experience in security matters after having undergone special training on counter-terrorism and advanced security in the US. Mutyambai has also studied operational management in the United Kingdom, and picked up policing, intelligence and counter-terrorism experience in Israel.

Mutyambai also served in the Kenya High Commission in Kampala as a political attaché from 2000 to 2004.

Prior to becoming the deputy director of counter-terrorism, Mutyambai served as the regional intelligence coordinator in Nairobi and the Coast. In Mombasa, he led counter-terrorism operations when radicalisation was on the rise.

He will be vetted by the National Assembly’s Security Committee before taking office if his nomination is approved.

Those who know Mutyambai say his counter-terrorism background came in handy during the 14 Riverside Drive terror attack on January 15.

“He was one of the unseen faces coordinating rescue operations that saw over 700 Kenyans safely rescued from the siege and the attackers neutralised,” said one officer.

Twenty-one people were killed in the attack.

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