February 8, 2023

23 STOLEN BENIN BRONZE ARTEFACTS RETURNED TO NIGERIA BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

The United States has returned 23 looted artifacts to Nigeria, The Benin Bronzes were handed over to a Nigerian delegation at a ceremony on Tuesday in Washington.

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, who received the artifacts, hailed the US and its institutions for the repatriation of the “highly cherished” cultural artworks.

“These artifacts are intrinsic to the culture that produced them. A people ought not be denied the works of their forebears. It is in the light of this that we are delighted with today’s repatriation,” he said.

The information ministry said the returned artifacts “comprise 21 from the Smithsonian and one each from the National Gallery of Arts and the Rhode Island School of Design”.

The repatriation is part of a bilateral cultural property agreement to prevent illegal imports into the US of some categories of Nigerian artifacts.

Lonnie G. Bunch III, the secretary of the Smithsonian, said the institution was “humbled and honored to play a small role in transferring ownership of the art works to Nigeria”, based on ethical consideration.

The items were among thousands of artworks known as the Benin Bronzes stolen from the Benin Kingdom in present-day Nigeria by British colonialists in 1897.

The items were then distributed to various museums and institutions across Europe and the US.

Nigeria is set to receive more such artifacts from The Netherlands, the UK, and Germany.

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