BENIN CITY — The Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II on Monday signed documents preceding the return of the two looted artefacts that were recently returned by the British Government to its Nigerian counterpart.
The artifacts, with others expected to arrive in Nigeria soon, were looted about 124 yrs ago by the colonialists.
At a ceremony at his palace, Oba Ewuare II and those involved in the process signed the necessary documents in line with the British laws regarding return of artefacts.
The objects would at a later day be handed over to the monarch for keeps by the federal government.
To safeguard the artworks and others expected to be returned in the future, Oba Ewuare II announced Prof Wole Soyinka as a member of the board of trustees of the Benin Royal Museum where the returned artifacts would be kept and be opened to the public including researchers and scientists.
He listed Aghatise Erediauwa, Nduka Obaigbena, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru amongst others, as members of the board of trustees for the museum.
Oba Ewaure II who commended the role played by the federal government in the return of the artifacts, said Benin art and culture reflect the past and present glory as well as the splendour of the kingdom.
“As our treasures are returned, our youths will be able to establish a new relationship with the heritage bequeathed by their forefathers.
“The return of all the treasures taken away will begin a new era of Benin history and civilisation. International best practice and the rule of law dictate that restitution and compensation is the new discourse.
“We ask that friendly countries seeking to return our artifacts should do so directly to the Oba of Benin or to the federal government of Nigeria who will hold them in trust and return the same to the Palace of the Oba of Benin Kingdom as was recently done in Cambridge and Aberdeen,” he added.
The Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola said the ceremony was in line with the commitment of the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to ensure that all stolen artifacts are returned to Nigeria and sent to their original owners.
The event attracted personalities from all walks of life including the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Bayero, representative of the Ooni of Ife, representative of the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire who is from Benin.
Others were Minister of the Niger Delta, Sen. Godswill Akpabio; former governor of Edo state and immediate past National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Ken Imansuagbon, former Deputy Governor of the state, Lucky Imasuen; palace chiefs, and traditional rulers from other parts of the state.