The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, on Wednesday in Benin, said that Cambridge University in the UK has concluded arrangement to return Benin artefacts in its custody.
The oba stated this when the Chairman, DAAR Communications, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, paid a courtesy visit on the palace to celebrate with him on his birthday and his fifth coronation anniversary.
He said if eventually the artefacts were returned the university would become the first institution to do so.
The oba said there was no dispute over the ownership of the thousands of Benin artefacts that were looted from the palace of the Oba of Benin in 1897 during the British invasion of the kingdom.
He commended some countries that have expressed willingness to return some of the artefacts scattered across Europe, the US and other parts of the globe.
The oba also dispelled insinuations that not all the artefacts were looted from the palace.
He commended the Federal Government and the Director- General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) for their support toward the repatriation of the artefacts.
“We hear that some researchers in Germany have said that some of them were produced here, some were produced there and so on and so forth.
“Where are these here and there? Were they outside the Benin Empire, where they outside the Benin Kingdom, were any of the artefacts produced outside the Benin Kingdom?
“If they were all produced in the Benin kingdom, why would any researcher try to say some were taken out of Benin Palace and some were taken from elsewhere?
“All elsewhere or wherever they are talking about are they not all under the authority of the Oba of Benin? Are they not all under the Benin Empire?”
He said the planned museum to house the artefacts would be domiciled in a museum planned to be built opposite the palace.
According to the Oba, “everyone will be able to have access to the artefacts at the museum to be built outside the palace.”
The monarch commended Dokpesi for taking the lead in private broadcasting in Nigeria despite the unfriendly environment.
“The God’s are behind you in all your efforts to ensure that all the artefacts that were taken away from here are bright back and restored,” he said
Dokpesi commended the efforts of the Oba to bring back the artworks.