The Federal Government has recognised ownership and given the Oba of Benin Kingdom custody and control of the returned looted Benin Artefacts.
The decision was taken by the government and published in notice number 25 on March 28, 2023, in volume 110, pages A245-247 of the official gazette number 57.
The document titled: “Notice of Presidential Declaration – on the Recognition of Ownership, and an order vesting custody and Management of Repatriated looted Benin artefacts in the Oba of Benin kingdom”, stated that the “ownership of artefacts looted from the ancient Palace of the Oba and other parts of Benin Kingdom be and is vested in the Oba.”
It also said that “custody of the repatriated artefacts, shall, from wherever and whenever they are brought into Nigeria, be handed over to the Oba as the original owner and custodian of the culture, heritage and tradition of the people of Benin Kingdom in Edo State of Nigeria.”
According to the gazette; “repatriated artefacts may be kept within the Palace of the Oba or such other locations within Benin City, or other place that the Oba and the Federal Government of Nigeria may consider secure and safe. “
The gazette also mandated that the; “Oba shall be responsible for the management of all places where the repatriated artefacts are domiciled or located.
“Oba shall work jointly with any recognized national or international institution to ensure the preservation and security of the repatriated artefacts for the benefits of humanity, and repatriated artefacts shall not be taken out of the designated custody without the written consent and authorization of the Oba, and upon such return, the artefacts shall first be inspected and authenticated by the Oba before it us accepted and restored to its designated custody.”