Saturday 28 June 2014

Govt receives artefacts from U.S museum, Nigeria Custom

By Tajudeen Sowole
About a week after two artefacts were returned to Benin royal family by a Briton, Nigeria's National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) has announced return of another set of eight cultural objects.

Also the NCMM, disclosed that it has taken possession of 18 artefacts intercepted by the Nigeria Custom Service at the Seme border, a boundary town shared with Republic of Benin.

Some of the arttefacts "returned by Boston museum" on display at the National Museum, Lagos.

In the past few years, Nigeria's agitation to get foreign museums holding its priceless cultural objects to return them has been loud on the international scene.

Director-General of NCMM, Mallam Yusuf Abdallah Usman, during a press briefing on Thursday, at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos stated that the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) Boston, U.S., has returned eight artefacts, which include works in bronze, terracotta, wood of Benin, Ife, and Oron origin to Nigeria. Shortly before showing the works to journalists, Usman explained the achievement was made possible after the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation opened dialogue with foreign museums four years ago.

For intercepting the artefacts at Seme border, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, High Chief Edem Duke who was present at the briefing said "we are grateful to the Nigerian Customs Service for their alertness."

Usman said: "About four years ago, we started what we call sharing and collaboration with European museums on the need to jointly find a way of resolving our differences concerning the holding of Nigerian antiquities." He added that the collaboration has resulted in the return of "over 100 objects in the last few years."

As Usman stressed that the discussion on restitution of Nigerian artefacts was ongoong, he disclosed: "today, we are adding another feather to our cap as the Museum of Fine Art , U.S has returned eight precious objects and priceless Nigerian works of art that were distributed from the estate of an African art collector."

The D-G explained that MFA is actively participating in the announcement of the return of the artefacts to Nigeria. "The MFA and NCMM are jointly and simultaneously issuing a press release on the return of these beautiful artefacts today."

Shortly after the briefing in Lagos, Usman and Duke showed the eight and 18 objects from Boston and Seme border to members of the press.

Duke said: "As a people that hold their cultural heritage in high esteem, it is our primary responsibility to ensure the protection, security and safety of these priceless antiquities." He expressed the gratitude of the federal government to MFA "for their collaboration and cooperation that ensured the repatriation of these objects."

Last week, in Benin, a Briton, Mark Walker who is the  grand child of one of the soilders that looted Benin in 1897 returned two artefacts to the royal family.

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