President Muhammadu Buhari has tasked the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II and Benin palace on the safe custody of the Benin artefacts returned from the United Kingdom.
President Buhari, who was represented by the Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK, Sarafa Isola, gave the advice Monday at the palace of the Oba of Benin during the return of the repossessed Benin artefacts to Oba Ewuare II.
“Our part is to ensure that these highly-priced objects are preserved in accordance with global best practices. This will undoubtedly assist in the sustained campaign to return and repossess the remaining Benin artefacts, other Nigerian and African artefacts domiciled across the globe currently.
“I have the privilege to legally transfer the two repossessed Benin artefacts, the conqueror bronze statue Cockerel, “Okpa” and an ancestral head, “Uhunwun Elao” to the Oba of Benin on behalf of the president and we are also doing the legal transfer,” he said.
He said the return of the two artefacts to the Benin Kingdom signified a breakthrough in the desire of Nigeria and Africa to repossess African artworks currently domicile abroad.
On his part, Oba Ewuare said the return of the artefacts which coincided with his coronation and birthday anniversary, signified a new era in Benin history and civilization.
He said the artefacts would not be confined and kept away from public view.
He said the palace was already collaborating with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) to build the Benin Royal Museum to house returned artworks that would be opened to tourists, researchers, among others.