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Mexico returns ancient sculpture to Nigeria

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Diego Prieto, director of the Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) speaks to the media during a news conference about new Aztec discoveries including the main temple of the wind god Ehecatl, a major deity, as well as an adjacent ritual ball court, located just off the Zocalo plaza in the heart of downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero

The Mexican government delivered to Nigeria on Tuesday an ancient bronze sculpture seized by customs agents at Mexico City airport as its buyer tried to bring it into this country.

The sculpture, from the 6th century southwestern Yoruba city of Ife, shows a man wearing woven pants and a hat, sitting with his legs crossed and holding an instrument.

“Specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History determined that it was a piece of Yoruba origin,” Diego Prieto, head of the agency, told a press conference.

“A beautiful bronze piece, and that being of Nigerian heritage, it should return to its home.”

Officials did not offer more details about the sculpture’s exact origins or the circumstances of its confiscation.

“It was also determined that it had been illegally exported,” the Mexican foreign ministry said.

Nigerian Ambassador Aminu Iyawa acknowledged the work of the Mexican authorities in recovering the sculpture.


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