Keep returned artefacts safe, Buhari tells Oba of Benin | Dailytrust

Keep returned artefacts safe, Buhari tells Oba of Benin

FILE PHOTO: Benin artefacts
FILE PHOTO: Benin artefacts

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 gave the instruction on Monday at the place of the Oba of Benin during the return of the repossessed Benin artefacts to Oba Ewuare II.

The president was represented by the Nigeria High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Amb. Sarafa Tunde Isola.

“Our part is to ensure that these high 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 Nigeria 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 signifies a breakthrough in the desire of Nigeria and Africa to repossess African artwork currently domicile abroad.

He said Nigeria took possession of the artefacts on October 27 and 28 at Jesus College in England and the University of Abadin Scotland.

The president advised that more emphasis should be placed on the return of artefacts rather than the circumstances leading to their removal as the push for the return continues.

“My presence in Benin kingdom today is in fulfilment of the desire of the express directive from President Buhari to return the repossessed artefact to where they originally belong,” he said.

He said before the artefacts were taken away from the Benin Kingdom in 1897, their sovereignty was vested in the Benin Kingdom under the leadership of the then Oba of Benin Ovorame Nogbasi hence they are being referred to as Benin bronze.

He added that sovereignty is now vested in the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the constitution under President Buhari who now transferred them to the palace of the Oba of Benin.

On his part, Oba Ewuare said the return of the artefacts which coincide with his coronation and birthday anniversary signifies a new era in Benin history and civilization.

He said contrary to speculations that the artefacts would be confined and kept away from public view, “there will be no restriction”.

He said the palace was 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 would be opened to tourists, researchers and others.

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