Tom Adala
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Top NIS spy Tom Adala's death, his mysterious ways and one last strange change of routine

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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 on Tuesday, was planning to expand his popular restaurant in Kisumu, according to staff who described him as generous but secretive.

Tom Mboya Adala, an Assistant Director at the National Intelligence Service (NIS) headquarters in Ruaraka, Nairobi, was the proprietor of Yurop Choma Zone (the name Yurop, a corruption of Europe).

According to his employees, he regularly visited the restaurant every weekend, but curiously, in the last two months, he hadn’t.

But he had informed his workers that he would check in this weekend because he was working to expand his thriving business. 

Jolly fellow

Whenever he was at the restaurant, staff told Nation.Africa on Wednesday, he was generous to clients and freely mingled with the crowd, an attribute which ensured he never had any particular sitting place.

For relatives, friends and staff, Adala was jovial whenever he was at the restaurant and never portrayed his suffering. It was, therefore, shocking for them that depression had driven him to suicide.

A son of the late Adala Otuko, the first Kenyan Ambassador to Russia and Ker (Chairman) of the Luo Council of Elders, police said he shot himself in the head in his house in Nairobi and left a suicide note explaining his tragic actions.

When the Nation.Africa visited Yurop Choma Zone on Wednesday, a day after news of his death became public; it was a beehive of activity as usual as customers savoured their delicacy, Nyama Choma.

Outside, carwash operators were scrambling for customers, the business-as-usual mode hardly giving away the grief following the death of its proprietor. 

Utmost respect

In between the short breaks at the busy restaurant on Nyerere Road near Da Vundu Bar in Kisumu, some staff managed to squeeze time to pay tribute to an employer they held dear. He offered them a source of income and treated them with the utmost respect.

“I knew Tom through my brother Maurice who helped me secure a job at the restaurant. He interviewed me in his vehicle and he was worried that the business was slow. I advised him on how to improve the business by introducing the Point of Sale (POS) system,” recalled Mr Fredrick Oduor, who is one month into the job as a cashier. The system helps seal financial accounting loopholes.  

According to Oduor, a Tourism and Hospitality graduate employed at the hotel three months after he graduated last year from Maseno University, his boss was to visit the restaurant this weekend for a trip that never was.

“He was planning to expand this premises more to accommodate the growing number of customers. My boss was to come next week and had alerted us that we would have a meeting but now he is no more,” said Mr Oduor.

Jack Ralik, a chef, knew him way before he set up the hotel in Kisumu on October 22, 2023. Ralik worked at Adala’s Backyard joint in Nairobi’s Kilimani before it closed its doors. He was the only chef who prepared special meals for him.

“He loved nyama choma, matumbo wet fry, his chicken prepared the same way and his fish meal boneless but wet fried too,” said Ralik. 

Battling depression 

“It was strange that he used to visit every weekend from Nairobi, but this time round it took more than two months before he came back.”

According to the police, Adala has been battling depression for some time. But for the staff at this restaurant, his demeanour did not portray one who was suffering.

They described Adala as jovial but very secretive, perhaps because of the nature of his job and therefore, did not share much with his subordinates.

“Alikuwa anatolea watu form sana akiwa area na kupatia watu thao thao (When he was around, he would really spoil his customers and freely dished out a thousand-shilling notes),” said Oduor.

Cynthia Nyateng said her boss had friends that he would spend time with whenever he was around. “He never sat at one particular spot in the hotel, he would join his clientele anywhere because he was a man of the people,” said Nyateng.

Ralik described his boss as friendly, understanding and accommodating. Their boss, he said, respected staff regardless of their position, and he would help them whenever they faced financial difficulties.

He nurtured young people from various estates in Kisumu who had a talent for art and music.

Police said Adala committed suicide in his house in Kirichwa Villas, within the Kilimani area.

Police officers who visited the scene said they established that the 54-year-old man shot himself using a pistol on the right side of the head. The bullet exited on his left side.

His nephew, Francis Oduor, who lived with him, informed police that he last saw him on June 3 at about 10pm as he went to sleep upstairs. His nephew said he also retired to bed in his room downstairs.

On Tuesday, he woke up to his morning chores and their day house help, Caroline Amanda, arrived and prepared breakfast for them.

But Adala was not seen until 9am.

Mr Oduor went upstairs to check on him in his room, but he was not there.

He asked their watchman, Maurice, who was at the gate if Adala had gone outside. But the watchman said he had not, according to the police report. 

After checking the compound, he found his uncle lying dead inside the servant's quarters.

It was then that senior police and NIS officials were alerted and visited the scene. The police recovered a Glock 19 pistol s/no skg 589 with one spent cartridge and a magazine loaded with three rounds.

In his bedroom, another spare magazine was recovered loaded with 13 rounds and a suicide note (written on a black notebook) placed on the bed, according to the police report.

The body was moved to Lee Funeral Home, and an inquest file was opened.