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FG to take possession of looted Benin bronzes

Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government has said it will take possession of the 1,130 looted Benin bronzes being expected from Germany.

Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, confirmed this on Saturday in Lagos at a news conference.

NAN reports Mohammed was reacting to the controversy that had trailed who will take possession of the expected artefact between the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II and Edo state Governor, Godwin Obaseki.

The Oba wanted the artefacts stolen from Benin Palace in 1987 to be returned to a museum to be built within the Palace premises, the governor showed preference for a private trust to take custody and manage the artefacts,

The Minister however said the federal government was the entity recognised by international law as the authority in control of antiquities originating from the country.

“The Federal Government is aware of the widely-reported controversy when on who will take possession of the Benin Bronzes when they are returned from Germany.

“Let me state clearly here that, in line with international best practice and the operative Conventions and laws, the return of the artefacts is being negotiated bilaterally between the national governments of Nigeria and Germany.

“Nigeria is the entity recognised by international law as the authority in control of antiquities originating from Nigeria.

“The relevant international Conventions treat heritage properties as properties belonging to the nation and not to individuals or subnational groups,’’ he said.

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