The Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, says Nigerian singers, Temilade Openiyi, popularly known as Tems and Stanley Omah Didia, should not be blamed for their ordeal in Uganda.
She disclosed this on Friday during an interview on Channels Television’s Hard Copy in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
“Some people said they committed a crime. In this case, I am sure if they had known, they would not have gone,” she said.
“Ignorance is not an excuse, they listened to the organisers. I don’t think we can blame them for what happened.”
For the NIDCOM chief, the release of the artistes followed diplomatic engagements between the Nigerian government and the Ugandan authorities.
She explained that when the Federal Government got wind of their arrest, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, contacted his counterpart in Uganda to fast-track their release.
Similarly, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration also got in touch with the Uganda High Commissioner to Nigeria, Nelson Ocheger, who she said was not in the country at the time of their arrest.
To guard against such a recurrence, Dabiri-Erewa, advised stars and other citizens to always notify the Nigerian Embassy of their presence abroad when out of the country.
According to her, the move is necessary because if the two artistes had registered their presence in the Nigerian High Commission in Uganda, they wouldn’t have been in trouble.
“Anybody that travels abroad, have faith in the mission. If the Nigerian mission had known that two of our biggest artistes were in town and they just made their presence known, maybe that would not have happened.
“Anytime you travel, especially there are super stars. Let the mission know that you are there. We get the response that, ‘oh they don’t listen to us.’ But let them know,” she added.
Her remarks come three days after the Ugandan authorities dropped the charges against the popular musicians, after spending three days in detention.
The duo were arrested on December 12 and charged before a Chief Magistrates Court in Makindye for breaching the country’s COVID-19 guidelines.