We’ve returned 63 looted Benin bronzes to Nigeria since Oct 2022, says US envoy

Adebari Oguntoye
Adebari Oguntoye

David Greene, Charge d’Affaires of the US embassy in Nigeria, says a total of 63 stolen Benin bronzes have been repatriated to Nigeria from October 2022 to date.

Greene spoke on Thursday at an event in Abuja.

The US envoy also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Nigeria for the preservation of Sukur’s cultural heritage in Adamawa state.

“The latest grant will support International Council on Monuments and Sites-Nigeria and its local partners to help preserve Sukur cultural heritage through infrastructure enhancements, the revival of threatened traditional crafts, and documentation, and preservation of the Sakun language,” Greene said.

“With that, we intensified joint efforts to identify, intercept, and repatriate looted, or other displaced cultural property and related works.

“These efforts paved the way for the official transfer in October 2022 of 22 Benin bronzes back to Nigeria.

“I am pleased to report that since 2022, the number has grown, and now a total of 63 Benin bronzes have been successfully repatriated to Nigeria.”

Hannatu Musawa, minister of arts, culture, and creative economy, said insurgency and climate change have endangered the Sukur cultural landscape.

“The project aims at undertaking a two-year conservation and preservation work in the Sukur cultural landscape, a UNESCO world heritage site, which is regarded as a place of outstanding universal values,” Musawa said.

“The work also involves the conservation of the tangible and intangible heritage of the Sukur cultural landscape, enhancing community capacity, strengthening local, national, and international links and networks for conserving the site’s outstanding universal values, and buttressing the resilience of the Sukur community in the face of insurgency and climate change.”

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