Benin receives returned artifacts, Buhari stresses safekeeping
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, advised the Benin monarch, Oba Ewuare II, and Benin royal palace on the safety of Benin artifacts repatriated from the United Kingdom.
Represented by the Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Sarafa Tunde Isola, the President said the return of the artifacts signified a breakthrough in the desire of Nigeria and Africa to repossess artworks domiciled abroad.
He said Nigeria took possession of the artifacts on October 27 and 28 at Jesus College in England and the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
“Our part is to ensure that these objects are preserved in accordance with global best practices. This will undoubtedly assist in the sustained campaign to return and repossess the remaining Benin artifacts, other artifacts domiciled across the globe currently.
“I have the privilege to legally transfer the two repossessed Benin artifacts, the conqueror bronze statue cockerel, “Okpa” and an ancestral head, “Uhunwun Elao” to the Oba of Benin on behalf of President and we are also doing the legal transfer,” he said.
“The president advised that emphasis should be placed on the return of artifacts rather than the circumstances leading to their removal as the push for the return continues.”
In his response, Oba Ewuare II said the return of the artifacts, which coincides with his coronation and birthday anniversary, signifies a new era in Benin history and civilisation.
He noted that contrary to speculations that the artifacts would be confined and kept away from public view, “there will be no restriction” as the palace is already collaborating with the Federal Government, through the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), to build the Benin Royal Museum to house returned artworks that will be opened to tourists, researchers, among others.