By Ozioruva Aliu, Benin-City
The Muslim community in Benin City has pledged its support to the Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II on who should take custody of artefacts stolen from the palace in 1897, now scattered in museums across the world and which some countries like Germany want to return.
The Chief Imam of Benin, Alhaji Abdulafatai Enabulele declared this commitment when he led the muslim community as it is customary to visit the Oba of Benin as part of activities to mark Eid-el-Kabir celebrations where he said Muslims do not support what is not right and what will cause conflicts and problems adding that they would support what would bring peace and development “in our community as Muslims.
” That is why we are praying that anyone who will want to do anything that is not right, God should change that person. You don’t challenge nor contest with the Oba in the Benin Kingdom”.
Reemphasising this position, he told Vanguard on phone Wednesday that “I said since those things (artefacts) were stolen from the palace, they should be returned to the palace and that all of us should support the palace to receive them.
“In 2014 when some of these things were brought back to the palace during the time of Oba Erediauwa, I was invited to also support the Oba to receive those items so since they have agreed to return them because I was also in the palace when the German Ambassador came to brief the Oba, I am saying that all Edo people, the federal government and the Edo state government should support the Oba to receive the items, we are all stakeholders.
“Those things were stolen in 1897 from the palace and successive obas, Oba Akenzua II, Oba Erediauwa and the present Oba have made efforts to make sure that those things were returned so all of us should support the Oba.
He is the custodian of the culture and tradition of the people. It is natural, there shouldn’t be any rancour and acrimony, this is a traditional thing and they were stolen from the palace.”
He lamented over the double standard of some persons in the state on the proposed return of the stolen artefacts because of their personal interests which he described as greediness and trying to fuel the crisis within the Benin empire.
Responding, Oba Ewuare II thanked the people for the visit, just as he tasked the people to continue to pray for the peace and development of the state.
Responding to why the Muslim community did not also visit the governor as is customary which is also generating controversy, Enabulele told Vanguard that “The governor said that because of COVID-19, there is need for us to come.”