FG will take possession of repatriated Benin artefacts

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Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, says the federal government will take possession of the repatriated Benin artefacts and will take into “cognizance the culture that produced the art works”.

He said this while speaking with the media during a press briefing on the efforts by the federal government to repatriate looted/smuggled artefacts from around the world, in Lagos on Saturday.

The German government said it would return the 1,130 looted Benin bronzes to Nigeria in 2022.

In 1897, the Benin kingdom, which was well-known for its rich cultural heritage and artefacts, was invaded by British soldiers, in what is now known as the Benin invasion of 1897.

Thousands of bronze castings and other cultural artefacts were destroyed while some were carted away.

However, since the news of repatriation, the Benin palace and the Edo government have been at loggerheads over who will house the historical and precious artefacts.

The Oba of Benin had asked the federal government to take possession of the artefacts when received, noting that the “only legitimate destination for the artefacts” is under the Benin royal museum which will be sited within the vicinity of the Oba’s palace.

He said the repatriated bronzes are not the property of the Edo state government but that of the Benin kingdom.

Godwin Obaseki, the state governor, had said on the return of the bronzes, they will be kept in ”a transformational museum to be built in Benin City”.

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