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Police Sacco sued over forceful deductions, operating illegally

The police officers are forcefully recruited into the savings scheme

The police officers are forcefully recruited into the savings scheme

Human rights lawyer, Steven Kalali has dragged to court Exodus Cooperatives Savings and Credit Society Limited for allegedly subjecting police officers to mandatory and involuntary monthly salary deductions as their saving contributions.

In his suit where the Attorney General is listed as the first respondent, Kalali argues that since 2015, all serving members of the police force intake were compulsorily or mandatorily recruited into the Exodus, which to date, continues to deduct their salaries against their wish or will. 

Kalali contends that the act of compulsory recruitment without their express consent or against their wish is illegal and violates their constitutional right to freedom of association. Evidence before court shows that the involuntary recruitment covers police officers at Mpigi police station, Nsangi police station, Katonga regional police, Kibibi police station among others - all of which the police staff are allegedly affected by the operations of or being associated with the membership of Exodus Sacco.

Records further show that Exodus, in pursuit of its objectives, extends financial services/credit/loan facilities to members of the sacco/police staff repayable on agreeable terms. However, the sacco being a micro deposit-taking institution involved in offering financial services/money lending business has never been licensed or registered with or complied with the statutory requirements under the Tier 4 Microfinance Institutions and Money Lenders Act 2016.

Evidence before the court further shows that every month, salaries of serving police officers are subjected to monthly deductions ranging from Shs 20,000 to Shs 50,000 as membership charges towards Exodus. Kalali is now seeking a declaration that the government has failed in its obligation to ensure that members of the police force are not arbitrarily deprived of their right to freedom of association or extorted of their monies/monthly earnings.

Kalali also wants a declaration that the deductions on salaries for members against their will are illegal and unlawful. The petition is supported by two affidavits including a police officer (name withheld because of his fear of being turned against by his superiors) and another for the petitioner Kalali.

The police officer in his affidavit contends that he has been in the police for over ten years and that there is too much fear and tension in the force that members even when affected by some actions like the operations of the Exodus, cannot come out because of fear for being witch-hunted by the top officials; and only few can tell the truth which they want the court to intervene due to their untold evidence.

"That in the year 2015, while new police officers were/we were being passed out at police training school Kabale, we were without our express decision making and without being accorded time to discern on the pros and cons of the 2nd respondent (Exodus Sacco), informed or directed by our charge superior officers that we had been recruited as members in the 2nd respondents Sacco," reads the affidavit.

The affidavit adds that Exodus only benefits the superior officers but not junior officers, especially in times of financial emergencies like paying school fees. Furthermore,  they end up limiting saving withdrawals to only 25 per cent once a year which clearly makes it difficult to support their families hence the hard life they go through as junior police officers.

"Several outcries have been made by us and other members of the public who are concerned with our living to various entities including parliament of Uganda but all in vain as to date, the 2nd respondent continues to make monthly salary deductions against our wish and also made its membership compulsory for all police pass outs starting from 2015 without option of choosing to join or not."

To prove his case, Kalali has attached a report by the parliamentary committee on defense and internal affairs on the operations of the police sacco to show that there were unwarranted illegal activities surrounding the operations of the sacco that only benefitted a few individuals against the low-ranking officers.

Kalali in his affidavit says he is seeking to enforce the rights enshrined in the constitution because as a citizen he is a beneficiary of the proper services or working conditions of serving police officers. The Attorney General has not yet responded to this matter which is before Mpigi High court circuit.

The case which is being handled by justice Anthony Oyuk Ojok will be heard next month August 20. In February 2024, parliament directed Exodus to stop the mandatory deductions of personnel salaries as savings.

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