President Muhammadu Buhari says the Federal Government would continue to pursue the repatriation of looted Nigeria’s artefacts from foreign nations, including 1,130 Benin Bronzes in Germany.
The President gave the assurance on Friday in Abuja while receiving the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, members of the Royal Court of Benin and the Board of Trustees of the Benin Royal Museum.
The monarch was at State House to thank the President on the return of two Benin Bronzes to its original place of abode by the University of Cambridge and the University of Aberdeen after 125 years.
Buhari expressed delight that the development has brought immense goodwill and acclaim to Nigeria and the ancient Benin Kingdom.
He noted that while it is widely acknowledged worldwide that some of the best ancient arts belong to Nigeria, including those from Benin, Ife, Nok and Igbo-Ukwu, many were stolen particularly during the colonial period.
‘‘In furtherance to these efforts, an agreement between Nigeria and Germany is currently being prepared.
“When concluded, it will signify the return to Nigeria by Germany of all the 1,130 Benin Bronzes in Germany’s public museums. This will be a monumental achievement.
‘‘Furthermore, on the 7th of this month, the Glasgow City Council agreed to return 17 Benin Bronzes to Nigeria. The legal issues are in the process of being sorted out.”
He listed other success stories as the return a 600-year-old Ife Terracotta by the Netherlands in October 2020; the return of a bronze piece from Mexico in April 2021; the November 2021 repatriation of two Benin Bronzes and an Ife Bronze head from the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
Buhari said Nigeria is now regarded to be in the forefront globally in the struggle to repatriate illicitly-exported artefacts back to their countries of origin.
He commended officials the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, currently working with the Oxford University, the Great North Museum of Newcastle University, Rhode Island School and others for the return of Nigerian antiquities, particularly the Benin Bronzes.
The Nigerian leader expressed optimism that with careful planning and management, the country can generate revenue from the repatriated antiquities.