The National Council of Museum and Monuments (NCMM) has revealed that Nigeria reached an agreement with European museums and the German government to begin the return of stolen artefacts from July 2022.
This was disclosed by Prof. Abba Tijani, Director-General, National Council of Museum and Monuments (NCMM) in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday, in Abuja.
“During this first year, we have witnessed the issue of repatriation. Nigeria has made attempt several times to request for our collections that were stolen from the country,” Tijani said.
He added that the treasures were stolen during the Benin punitive expedition of 1897, when the Oba of Benin’s palace was ransacked and artefacts in the palace were taken away.
“They found themselves in different museums across the world, particularly in Europe and America.
“The attempts to get these objects repatriated, especially in the early 70s during the then Director-General Ekpo Eyo era, did not yield result as the British Museum did not succumb to the request, and particularly the issue of the symbol for the FESTAC 77 that was requested and the British Museum did not oblige,” he said.
He added that this time, the FG engaged partners where the objects were being kept in the interest of museums across the world, especially through the Benin dialogue group forum, which the FG has been engaging with to repatriate Benin artefacts that were stolen during that period.
“And finally, Germany has succumbed and accepted to repatriate all the Benin bronzes and the possessions of our museums across Germany which is over 1000 artefacts.
“We have achieved this and we have been to Germany together with the honourable Minister of Information and Culture, and we have negotiated.
“We have agreed on the timeline that these objects will finally start coming to the country from July 2022, so this is a landmark achievement,” he said.
He further stated that as a result of the achievement, other museums across the world were reaching out to negotiate terms for the return of the artefacts, citing that the FG had also received a number of other artefacts, one of them being the 600 year-old Ife head, a terracotta head that was stolen from Nigeria.
“We were able to get it back from the Netherlands; this was last year, and we have also received some artefacts, Benin artefacts from private collections that were anonymously returned to us.
“We have now reached an agreement with Aberdeen to get the Benin plagues in their possession this October.
“And we have also arranged for the repatriation of three artefacts from the metropolitan museum of art in New York,” he added.
What you should know
Nairametrics reported earlier in July that the Federal Government had said that at least 7,000 artefacts that were stolen from the Benin Kingdom were expected to be repatriated by Germany to Nigeria not later than October 2021, following the advanced stage of discussions between Nigeria and Germany on the return of thousands of different pieces of Benin bronzes back to the country.