By Osaigbovo Iguobaro
The governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has hosted Germany delegation towards the return of stolen artifacts from the ancient City of Benin during the British expedition.
He disclosed this when he received high ranking German officials on Wednesday in Benin City to finalise modalities for the return of the works ahead of the return next year.
Obaseki said the visit by the German delegation is a major milestone in realising the dream of restoring the heritage of Edo people and preserving their sense of identity and culture.
To assuage the worries of global stakeholders over the safety of the artefacts when returned, Obaseki reassured that work on the Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA) will be expedited to house the artefacts, rallying international partners to ensure the realisation of the project.
The governor also facilitated the meeting between the German officials and the Federal Government agencies in Abuja some few days ago, where the Minister of Culture and Information, Lai Mohammed, parleyed with the visiting party.
Receiving the visitors, the Minister hailed Governor Obaseki’s commitment to repatriate the Benin Bronzes from all over the world, noting that Nigeria, through the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), had initiated discussions with several European museums, the Royal Palace of Benin and the Edo State Government on the return of Benin Bronzes looted from the Oba of Benin’s palace in 1897.
According to him, Germany has “signified its intention to assist in building a storage facility for the repatriated antiquities. I am informed that this facility will be built as part of the National Museum complex in Benin, which ultimately will be part of the Cultural hub, that European partners and the NCMM, the Edo Government and the Royal Palace of Benin, through the Legacy Restoration Trust, are constructing. I must say this is a welcome development and a great example to the world, especially to those other countries holding Nigerian artefacts”.
The German officials had in April, 2021 announced the country’s resolve to lead the consortium of museums in Europe and across the world in the restitution programme, setting up machinery and modalities to return the works in their collection starting from 2022.