July 9, 2021

No going back on return of artefacts to palace— Oba of Benin

FILE: Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, dancing at a press briefing on Friday, to the songs his grand father, Oba Akenzua II sang and danced to in 1938. This was joy over the return of the first set of artefacts said to have been worn by Oba Ovonranmwen Nogbaisi when he went on exile.

By Ozioruva Aliu, BENIN CITY

THE Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, on Friday, insisted that the people of Benin Kingdom including himself and the entire royal family would not accept the reparation of the artefacts, which were stolen from the palace during the 1897 invasion by the British, to any other location except the palace where they were looted from.

Addressing the media in his palace on Friday, Oba Ewuare II said the initiative of Governor Godwin Obaseki on the return of the artefacts with the establishment of Trusts and planned establishment of an Edo Museum of West African Arts (EMOWAA) was not part of the discussion he had with the governor, even as he said he sensed some persons trying to make money from the exercise.

At the briefing were palace chiefs, heads of all the dukedoms in the kingdom, members of the royal family, Ohens (heads of shrines and priests), the Okhaegeles (representatives of the youths) and several Benin sons and daughters.

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The monarch said issues of the return of the works were not controversial as being portrayed.

His words: “There is no controversy about this matter. It is a straightforward matter. I want to correct that expression that there is controversy between the palace and state government.

“Perhaps there is a breach in communication. There is a little bit of misunderstanding; not on our side but on the side of the state government of Governor Godwin Obaseki.

“The issue of EMOWAA is strange to us; that was not what I discussed with Mr Governor right from the beginning.

“What I discussed with him was the Benin Royal Museum. If we are together now, I will remind him; I will ask him, what did we discuss that time, was it EMOWAA?

“He cannot say he discussed that with me. We don’t know EMOWAA, we cannot deal with EMOWAA. It is the Benin Royal Museum.”

The Benin monarch cautioned against money being the reason behind the differences, noting “Let those that have ears let them hear. I have always made my position clear.

“I am following my father’s footsteps, I am following my ancestors’ footsteps. It is not just only my course, it is not just only my statement, it is the statement of the entire people.

“You cannot expect the artefacts to go elsewhere other than where it was taken from; it is just a given. I think the international community will be wise.”

   In his speech which was earlier read by the Iyase (Prime Minister) of Benin, Chief Sam Igbe, the Oba said he had already established the Oba Ewuare II Foundation and “has been registered with the CAC.

“And has worked out a framework for not only receiving the artefacts, but also building a modern structure— The Benin Royal Museum— within the precincts of the Palace and that land has been secured for the building of the Benin Royal Museum under the supervision of the traditional institution.”

Vanguard News Nigeria