EDITORIAL: As Somalia's Intelligence service parades impunity, who will cut their legs?


EDITORIAL | Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency [NISA] is a noble organization. But it seems led by those who love trading in hurt and impunity.

This week, Fahad Yasin, the head of NISA revoked the sacking orders by Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble to two agents who had been implicated in violations against political leaders.

Yasin canceled the sacking, and hence normalized impunity. The agency has also been fighting claims its top honchos organized the disappearance of an agent believed to have landed on sensitive information.

Legally speaking, NISA’s creation was legit. Based on troubles the country had gone through with Al-Shabaab and institutional collapse, a steady intelligence team was needed to predict problems and how to deal with them.

It is true the agency has had problems in the past including infiltration by bad people and a general lack of professionalism. Under Yasin, however, NISA has become the long hand with which President Mohamed Farmaajo’s administration has tamed opponents.

The incidents at the airport earlier this month, when opposition politicians were detained and barred from traveling, were not just impunity. It also showed that Yasin is now untouchable.

Under civilized conditions, NISA is supposed to aid the country to heal by cracking open any plans to derail the peace or security. Instead, Yasin has used it as an attack dog on politicians. Many of these politicians have filed formal complaints but Somalia’s justice system, whose institutions are near death, has allowed NISA to thrive in breaking the law.

In an electoral season where politicians must travel around the country to market their policies or candidature, it becomes obvious that curtailing their travel works for President Farmaajo. PM Roble did well to show the two rogue agents the door, signaling his displeasure with impunity.

But we also know that he is an employee of Farmaajo who hired him to work only as long as he likes it. That means Roble may do little to push the hand of Yasin. As a close ally to Farmaajo, Yasin may well see himself above the law, as long as his boss stays around.

His response has not come yet, as he was on a trip to London to attend the Global Education Summit. But if at all those two agents stay on in the work, NISA risks losing the trust of the public, making it only an organization of mercenaries.

Somalia, however, doesn’t need rogue agents or mercenaries. Having been beaten by conflict, drought, and floods for three decades, the last thing Somalis want now is to spend their money building an institution that turns against them.

So who will cut the legs of NISA before it becomes damaged goods? The biggest weapon is to support a free and fair election. A credible election will dilute their overreach and pool a group of leaders who will not stand impunity.

When Somalia finally rises from the primitive tricks NISA has been trying and learns to concentrate on their function of securing Somalia, the agency will find no bother in disturbing the peace of harmless politicians.

Somalia will rise and rise based on institutions that work within the law. With time, NISA’s outlaws will find no air to breathe.


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