Tom Adala
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Suicide note reveals top NIS spy’s battle with depression

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Tom Adala, 54, was an Assistant Director at the NIS. He is said to have taken his life in Kilimani Estate, Nairobi.

Photo credit: Pool | Nation Media Group

A senior intelligence officer, who police claim died by suicide, reportedly complained about his marital problems, adding that nobody should be blamed for his death.

Tom Adala, an Assistant Director at the National Intelligence Service (NIS) headquarters in Ruaraka, was found dead at his house on Kirichwa Road, Kilimani estate in Nairobi, on Tuesday morning.

A nephew reported to Kilimani police station that Adala shot himself in the head.

The bullet went through the head from the left side and exited from the right. His body was found in the servant’s quarters.

In the main bedroom, police found a black notebook, in which Adala had outlined some of the issues that reportedly led to the suicide.

Rounds and magazines

The book is now with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) office in Kilimani. It is considered a suicide note. The book is the size of a pocket diary.

Sources familiar with the matter told the Nation that Adala had said he faced numerous challenges after separating with his wife. The couple was going through a divorce. Adala was the son of Otuko Adala, Kenya’s first ambassador to Russia from1964 to1968.

The senior Adala also served as the chairman of the Luo Council of Elders. In the last communication to his family through the one-page note, Adala said his children – who live with his estranged wife – should be visiting his grave.

The sources said Adala had shared with colleagues the pain of separating with his wife.

At the tail end of the note dated June 2, which he signed, Adala wrote: “Nobody should be blamed for this.” Adala’s friends and colleagues, who spoke to the Nation in confidence, said he had been battling depression and even sought treatment.

The colleagues said the situation worsened when he was transferred to his new station as the head of the Counter-Extremism Violence Unit during recent staff changes at the NIS headquarters. The transfer, according to friends and workmates, was like a demotion.

“We visited him at home several times when he failed to report to work after the staff changes. Adala wanted to resign but we urged him to stay,” said one senior officer who worked and interacted with him.  

According to police, Adala’s nephew said he last saw him on Monday at 10pm when he retired to his room upstairs.

The nephew said he, too, went to bed on the ground floor.

Spent cartridge

He woke up on Tuesday morning, only to be alerted by the househelp that Adala had not shown up for breakfast by 9am.

The nephew said he went to check on his uncle but did not find him. He asked the guard if his uncle had left at night but was told that he had not.

Minutes later, he stumbled on the body at the servant’s quarters. He then called other relatives who informed the police.

Senior police officers who visited the scene found a pistol with a spent cartridge and a magazine with three rounds, according to the police report.

In Adala’s bedroom, a spare magazine was found with 13 rounds. The suicide note was on the bed. It is not clear why no one in the compound heard the gunshot and at what time Adala had moved from the main house.

The body is lying at Lee Funeral Home. Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo mourned Adala as a dedicated officer.

“Adala was a wonderful friend to many,” the PS said in a post on Facebook.