By Ozioruva Aliu, BENIN CITY
THE Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II has said there was no dispute over the ownership of thousands of Benin artefacts taken from the palace of the Oba of Benin in 1897 during the British invasion of the kingdom, which are now scattered across Europe, the United States and other parts of the world.
The monarch stated this when the Chairman, DAAR Communications, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, paid a courtesy visit to the palace to celebrate with him on his birthday and his fifth coronation anniversary where he commended the efforts of the Oba to bring back the artworks.
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He said: “God is behind you in all your efforts to ensure that all the artefacts that were taken away from here are bright back and restored.”
The Oba also dispelled speculation that some of the works were not taken from the palace but elsewhere, just as he commended the Federal Government and the Director-General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, NCMM, for the support.
Commending Dokpesi for taking the lead in private broadcasting in Nigeria despite unfriendly environments, Oba Ewuare II revealed that Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, which his father, Oba Erediauwa attended would soon return some artefacts from Benin in its custody.
He said: “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 will 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.