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Uganda drops charges against Nigerian singers Omah Lay and Tem

Nigerian singers Omah Lay and Tems were on Tuesday night released from police custody in Uganda after charges against them for breaching Covid-19 rules were dropped.

According to court documents, the Ugandan government ordered the prison where the singers and their manager, Muyiwa Awoniyi have been held for the last three days to release them as charges against them “had been withdrawn.”

The musicians, their manager, and four others were arrested for breaching coronavirus rules when they held a concert on Saturday in the capital, Kampala.

They were charged on Monday for “negligently doing acts likely to spread an infectious disease” and police said they will be detained until Wednesday.

Uganda presidential hopeful and musician Bobi Wine had criticized the arrest of the two singers and their manager for allegedly breaching Covid-19 laws to perform.

In a message via social media, the 38-year-old accused President Yoweri Museveni’s government of double standards in implementing laws aimed at curbing the spread of the potentially deadly virus.

Bobi Wine wondered why the singers had been granted a work permit and even performed under police protection only to be later arrested.

He further questioned why Museveni’s supporters were not apprehended despite violating the laid down procedures on social dancing during the campaign trail.

“The arrest of Omah Lay, the Nigerian artist is not about Covid-19. It’s an act of shame by a corrupt government that operates on double standards. The artist was booked, obtained a work permit and performed under police protection, why arrest him? While some Ugandan artists are staging pro-Museveni shows with thousands of people in blatant violation of the same SOPs under the guard of police and the military, a foreign artist is persecuted to cover up the shame,” he wrote.

He later said that his lawyers had joined in representing the two musicians and later said he was delighted to see that the charges had been dropped.

“Delighted to see the illegal and unfair charges dropped! Evidence that voices matter, that PEOPLE POWER can force the people in power to act. We must never underestimate our potential!”

The singer’s arrests prompted Nigerian musicians as well as fans to call for their release.

The fans took to social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook condemning the arrest of the two musicians as others called for their immediate release.

“Wasn’t there prior publicity about the show? Why wasn’t it shut down before it was held? Why are you arresting artistes that performed? Who organised the show?” Olamilekan Agbeleshe, famously known as Laycon on social media, a reality show star of Big Brother Nigeria, asked.

Grammy-nominated artiste, Burna Boy, also called for the release of the two musicians.

“It is a total shame that Nigerian artists Omah Lay and Tems, who flew into Uganda legally for a publicly announced event, are being hounded and embarrassed in such a manner,” Runtown, another singer said.

The two artistes alongside their handler Muyiwa Awoniyi were arrested on Sunday after they held a concert dubbed, “The Big Brunch, Afro Beats edition,” at Ddungu Resorts in Munyonyo, Makindye Division.

The government of Uganda banned music concerts in the country as one of the measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

The arrest was on the heels of a public outcry by Ugandan entertainers, who castigated the Police for allowing international artistes to hold concerts while the local ones are denied.