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Omah Lay, Tems Appear in Ugandan Court as Burna Boy Joins Growing Calls for Release

Nigerian musicians Omah Lay and Tems have been charged to court in Uganda after being arrested for flouting Covid-19 guidelines.

On Sunday, both artists had been arrested after a performance at a resort in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. Tems’ manager, Muyiwa Awomiyi and the events manager were also arrested.

The Ugandan Police Force in a tweet on Monday said that Omah Lay, Tems and Muyiwa Awomiyi “have been charged to court in Makindye on charges of Negligently doing acts likely to spread an infectious diseases C/S 171 of the Penal Code Act.”

The trio will be remanded in custody until Wednesday after plans for their release on bail were suspended.

“The earlier plans of releasing them on police bond, were suspended after their casefile was sanctioned by the Office of the DPP. They were jointly charged with four other Ugandans. All remanded till Wednesday 16.12.2020,” the police said.

In a series of tweets, Omah Lay questioned the motives behind his arrest and revealed that Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had tried to secure his release “to no avail.”

“I’m in cuffs in Uganda right now with Tems,” Omah Lay began.

“I’m just a singer trying to entertain, why am I being set up in Uganda? I didn’t organize a show, I came on stage and saw teeming fans and sang to them…”

He continued: “Why is Uganda not letting [Nigeria Ministry of Foreign Affairs] step into this? They have been trying to secure our release to no avail.

“Is there something bigger at play in Uganda? Why do I have to take the fall for it???”

Uganda’s government has placed a ban on all music concerts and closed down bars in the country as coronavirus cases grew.

A Ugandan news outlet, The Independent, has claimed the organizers of the event Omah Lay and Tems performed at disguised the show as a lunch and dinner event.

As news of both artists’ incarceration in Uganda spread, fans and celebrities took to Twitter to call on the Ugandan authorities to release them.

Superstar Burna Boy wrote: “Uganda …Pls we need our people home and safe,” and added the trending hashtags, #freetems #freeomahlay

Rising star Rema urged the Nigerian government to intervene, saying: “Free Omah lay, Free Tems. Uganda y’all breaking my heart on God. Nigerian government SPEAK!”

“What is going on? Why are Omah Lay and Tems being mistreated singer Fireboy DML asked before calling on Nigerians to spread awareness on their arrest. “#FreeOmahLay #FreeTems everyone please let’s create more awareness on this, it’s no longer funny !”

Rita Osakwe

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