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Bodyguards of judicial officers spend three months without pay

Judiciary Spokesperson Jameson Karemani confirmed the delayed payment of the police officers saying the judiciary has been trying to establish their actual number. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | More than 500 police officers providing security to judicial officers have gone three months without receiving their allowances, Uganda Radio Network has learnt.  The police officers work as bodyguards, court orderlies and guard the residential premises of judiciary officers.

Judges are guarded by officers from the Counter-Terrorism Unit, Very Important Person Protection Unit-VIPPU whereas courts especially upcountry are guarded by the regular police officers deployed by their respective District Police Commanders.

A highly placed source told URN on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal from their superiors that they have not received their allowances since February 2021, which has made their survival and members of their families very difficult.

According to records obtained by URN, police officers guarding Magistrates and court buildings are entitled to a monthly allowance of Shillings 150,000. A police constable from the VIPPU deployed as a bodyguard earns Shillings 420,000, a Corporal and Sergeant Shillings 540,000, while the one deployed to guard a residence earns Shillings 320,000 for a Constable and Shillings 380,000 for a sergeant.

The officers attached to the Chief Justice’s security detail who earn Shillings 660,000 monthly in allowances are affected.

One of the police guards who haven’t been paid says life is difficult for those who travel with Judges upcountry and leave their families behind like in Kampala. The Judiciary Spokesperson Jameson Karemani has confirmed the delayed payment of the police officers saying the judiciary has been trying to establish their actual number.

He says that some of the officers at some courts are more than the required number, which causes unnecessary expenditure. He says that to resolve the problem, the Judiciary Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana has embarked on a headcount to verify the number of guards to ascertain those to be paid or not. According to Karemani, the judiciary will make arrangements to pay those who deserve the allowances.

However, another source in the judiciary told URN on anonymity that some judicial officials secured bodyguards they were not supposed to get. The source cited magistrates, chief Magistrates and some Registrars who are not entitled to bodyguards but have acquired them, some for genuine security reasons while others it is for prestige.

According to the source, the Judiciary advised such officers to write to the Inspector-General of Police for permission to get the guards if they are to be maintained on the payroll. Records show that the judiciary spends Shillings 200.8 million per month for the 528 guards excluding 40 others who are guarding some officers illegally.

This excludes police officers guarding court premises who haven’t been paid to. According to records seen by URN, Kampala courts alone have 160 police officers on guard duties.

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