11 July 2014

Nigeria: Reps Urge UK to Repatriate Stolen Artefacts

Photo: ChannelsTV
Benin artefacts.

Abuja — The House of Representatives Thursday called on the British Parliament to intervene in Nigeria's efforts to get stolen Nigerian artefacts in various museums in the United Kingdom repatriated.

The House in adopting a motion calling for the repatriation of the artefacts also took a decision to communicate it to the British parliament.

The House also applauded the decision of a British citizen, Dr. Andrian Mark Walker, to return the bronze artwork popularly known as Ahianwen-Oro to the Oba of Benin in company of other foreign nationals.

Adrian great-grand-father, Captain Philip Walker, took part in the 1897 Benin Massacre in which a large number of Benin artefacts were carted away.

Congratulatory messages were also sent to the Federal Government and the Oba of Benin, Omo Onoba N'eco Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa 1 of Benin for the return of two artefacts which were among the previous ones looted from the Palace.

of the Oba of Benin during the punitive expedition/invasion of Benin in 1897 by British soldiers led by Captain Philip Walker, the grandfather of Dr. Mark Walker.

The House made the resolution following a motion sponsored by Samson Osagie and 40 other members tagged, "Return of looted Benin artefact to the Oba of Benin by Dr. Mark Walker, a British citizen."

In his lead debate, Osagie said many bronze and ivory artefacts of Benin Kingdom were looted during the expedition invasion to defray the cost of the military action by the British Government against Benin Kingdom and to avenge the death of some trade missionaries.

He noted that the military action by the British soldiers led by Captain Philip Walker resulted to the killing of thousands of Benin people, the deportation of Oba Ovonranmwen to Calabar and the desecration of the royal palace, an incident that underscored the socio-cultural and economic significance of the looted artefacts to the Benin people, even till date.

Osagie said among the celebrated artefacts that were looted by the soldiers was original maskhead of Queen Idia which in 1977 was used as the official symbol of Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) and it has remained, among others, in the British museum till date.

Furthermore, he said the Oba of Benin, the Government and the people of Nigeria have repeatedly requested the British Government and all other people in possessions of the artefacts to return them as they are part of the heritage of the Benin and define them as a people.

He urged the House to appreciate the gesture of Dr. Mark Walker who upon realising that those artefacts were taken from Benin Kingdom by his grandfather, made painstaking inquiries from the Richard Lander Society about their origin which signals the possibility of the retrieval of all other looted artefacts from Benin Kingdom by the British and all other persons or authorities concerned.

Ruling on the motion, the Speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, congratulated the Federal Government and the Oba of Benin for the return of the Artefacts, and ordered that the resolution be communicated to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Senate, the Oba of Benin, the Prime Minister of Britain, the Speaker of British Parliament and Dr. Walker.

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