Omah Lay and manager Muyiwa Awoniyi in cuffs. Photo: Courtesy.

Uganda presidential hopeful and musician Bobi Wine has criticized the arrest of Nigerian Singers Omah Lay, Tems and manager Muyiwa Awoniyi 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.

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“The arrest of Omah Lay, the Nigerian artist is not about COVID19. 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.

However, singer Cindy Sanyu had a different say on the matter, terming Omah Lay an ‘idiot’ for sharing photos from the performance on social media. In her argument, Cindy said it’s ironic for Ugandan artists to be ‘starving’ due to cancelation of concerts, yet a foreign artist was allowed to perform.

“In all our silence, a foreigner had a concert in this country and filled up a concert where there was no social distancing, there were no masks and this idiot even posted it online. He was very proud about the fact that he had a successful concert in Uganda. I don't agree with this. It's not fair, it is not right by any standards that you look at it. It was a concert and it happened during the lockdown while artists here are starving,” she said.

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Nigerians speak out

Omah Lay’s arrest alongside two others prompted Nigerian musicians to call for his release through the hashtag #FreeOmahLay: