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Edo in Diaspora fault FG, state government on ownership of looted artefacts

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[FILES] Obaseki led the Edo State Government delegation to a meeting between the Federal Government, the Benin Royal Family and the German Government in Germany, to finalise modalities for the return of stolen artefacts to Edo State.<br />The meeting in Berlin was attended by the German Minister of State for Culture, Prof. Monika Grutters, and Foreign Minister, Mr Heiko Maas, while the Nigerian delegation includes the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.<br />The Benin Royal Palace was represented by Crown Prince of Benin Kingdom, Prince Ezelekhae Ewuare. Photo/ facebook/godwinobasekiofficial/

Edo indigenes in the Diaspora, yesterday, expressed discontent with the Federal and Edo State governments over purported plans to take possession of the proposed return of stolen Benin artefacts.

In a statement endorsed by Prince Sunny Obasohan and made available to journalists in Benin City, they argued that the relics were stolen from the Oba of Benin’s Palace during the invasion and massacre of 1897, hence they should be returned to the palace.

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Oba Ovoramwen N’Ogbasi was the paramount ruler when the event happened.

Obasohan stated that the artefacts should be in the custody of the Oba for the preservation of the relics, tradition and culture of the Benin Kingdom for generations yet unborn.

Insisting that the artefacts were stolen from Benin Empire when Nigeria was not even in existence yet, he wondered why the Federal Government or any governor would want to play smart on the people of Benin Kingdom.

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“The Edo in the Diaspora, particularly those of us in Canada are solidly behind Oba Ewuare II to receive the artefacts,” he said.

He added that the relics that were returned in 1938 and that of the sons of the late Captain Phillips were brought to the palace and received by Oba Akenzua and Oba Erediauwa of blessed memory.

Obasohan maintained that such powers of government were null and void in Benin traditional parlance.

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The group noted that the fact-finding mission of the German Government to the Oba of Benin Palace was a clear indication that the state government was already working towards preventing the reparation of the stolen artefacts to Benin Kingdom.

“Governor Godwin Obaseki’s claims to building a museum for the objects was inconsequential and Oba Ewuare II, with the support of Edo people in the Diaspora are ready to receive the artefacts, as there would be a designed museum for them,” he said.

Obasohan enjoined the Benin people to resist injustice in matters relating to the Benin Traditional Law and Customs.

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