ABUJA- Expert in Artifacts yesterday, urged the Federal Government to immediately commence bilateral negotiation with United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Germany for the return of Benin bronzes.
Professor Folarin Shyllon stated this yesterday, while presenting a keynote address at the national workshop on Illicit Trafficking of Cultural property organized by National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), said it is time for the nation to demand for the return of these bronzes that are in UK and Germany museums.
The title of Prof. Shyllonâ€™s paper isÂ â€˜Towards a Strategy for Curbing Illicit Trafficking and the Return of Cultural Propertyâ€™.
Recalling, terracotta and Nok arts were stolen from Ife, Osun State, and some Northern parts of the country. Benin, Edo State, has the heaviest volume of antiquities removed and carted to various museums in Britain, Germany and other parts of the world.
These include Benin bronzes, ivories and other ancient works looted by British colonialists, especially during the reprisal attacks launched by the Queenâ€˜s soldiers against natives trying to resist imperialism in 1897.
â€œNigeria should commence bilateral negotiations with the governments of the United Kingdom and Federal republic of Germany for the return of Benin bronzes and if negotiation fails Nigeria must seek the good office of intergovernmental committee by submitting requests for the return of the bronzes.â€
Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation Senator Jibrin Gada, said the artifact represents the soul of the nation.
â€œI wish to reiterate that our cultural property represents the soul of our nation, the pages of our history and the source of inspiration to our country which therefore must be safeguarded for future generation of Nigerians. I wish to express my gratitude to French government and call on other countries to follow suitâ€.
Senator Gada who received two stolen artifacts dated over 400 hundred years from the French government. The monoliths were handed over to the Minister.
by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Chief Ojo Maduekwe and a representative of French Government.In his welcome address, Director General of NCMM Mallam Yusuf Abdulla Usman said unauthorized and illicit movement of cultural objects and property has raised so much concern for cultural experts, art lovers alike and the nation.
He said many nations all over the world have been putting in place various means of monitoring and control methods to stem the tide of the vicious practice.
He noted that, â€œIllicit trafficking diminishes and improvises the growth potentials of a countryâ€™s art and culture sector. It undermines a countryâ€™s tourism potentials and most unfortunately exposes the apparent lapses in security procedure.â€
He reiterated the commitment of NCMM in ensuring the recovery of the nationâ€™s cultural property taken during the pre and post colonial era.