Nairobi News


Uhuru’s pick: Unwrapping the secret life of a spy nominated for top police job

When terrorists struck at 14 Riverside Drive premises on January 15, 2019, Mr Hilary Nzioka Mutyambai was among top decision makers who coordinated the security forces that responded to the attack.

There is never such thing as a normal day in his position, but when the signal on the Riverside attack arrived at the National Intelligence Service (NIS) – where until Wednesday he served as the Deputy Director in charge of Counter Terrorism – it was a moment he had prepared for.

He sprang into action, managing and coordinating the team of officers from the NIS in analysing and coordinating the response strategy. The result was a quicker neutralisation  of the attackers compared to the Westgate shopping mall attack that dragged for days.


Fifty seven days later, President Uhuru Kenyatta nominated him to the top position of Inspector General of Police, a now familiar pattern of entrusting career spies with top security jobs.

President Kenyatta must have considered the role of “dealing with terrorism that he had handed to Mr Boinnet.”

Mr Mutyambai, if approved, will assume office in a country battling home-grown terrorism as among its biggest security threats.

Internally within the service, he will have to calm angry police officers in lower cadres who sued the Inspector General’s office over claims of selective reviews of police officers job groups and delayed salary increments. He is also expected to get a solution to the complains over slashed allowances that officers were promised.


Mr Mutyambai was recruited to the service in 1991. He has an Undergraduate degree from University of Nairobi and a Master’s degree from the Australian National University- the same school where Mr Boinnet acquired his Master’s degree.

He has served as a Regional Intelligence Coordinator in Nairobi and Mombasa counties before he was elevated to cover the whole of the Coast.

He has also trained in advanced security analysis, detection and prevention of frauds and forgery, policing, intelligence and counter terrorism.

Prior to becoming Deputy Director of counter Terrorism, Mutyambai served as the Regional Intelligence Coordinator, Nairobi County, Regional Intelligence Coordinator, Coast Region and County Intelligence Coordinator in Mombasa.

He is married to Prof Susan Nzioki and together they have two kids David and Lucy.