Spy agency NISA to collect official data in Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia – Individuals working with the Federal Government of Somalia must now submit their information to the National Intelligence Security Agency [NISA], a move that aims to streamline operations within the Horn of Africa, but which may provoke sharp political debate.

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Sadiq Warfa, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, said all government departments have been affected by the directive, adding that those responsible should now work closely with NISA to ensure the data is collected within the shortest possible time.

The Minister insisted that the exercise will be conducted by NISA, an agency with great influence in the Horn of Africa. The agency works under Fahad Yasin, a former Al-Jazeera journalist who is a close ally and confidant of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.

Warfa also urged all government ministries to provide the necessary support, including office space for detectives to roll out the program, but did not specify the timelines. There have been reports in the past of ghost workers in the government protected by powerful officials.

This exercise is being carried out only months after the military embraced biometric screening of officers in one of the strict reforms aimed at getting rid of ghost workers. The United States, which supports the Somali National Army, had raised issues of accountability, leading to the registration.

Somalia has a total workforce of less than 10,000 in the public service, some of which are posted and paid for by donor organizations to lead the implementation of certain projects, capacity support and injection. It was not clear in the minister’s letter what kind of information the detectives will collect.

Security experts and opposition figures warn that the date could be vulnerable to al-Shabab and could endanger the lives of officials, as a confidential report revealed strong links between Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency and the terrorist group.

Officials from the international community had insisted that the country lost a lot of money to corrupt agreements due to lack of transparency in the public service. The country depends mainly on donors who finance most of the activities, including development projects.

The decision could provoke sharp reactions from the opposition, which has accused the FGS of abusing the agency for political gain. A few months ago, calls for the dissolution of NISA increased, but President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo remained tight-lipped.

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