Nigeria: Benin Coalition Tackles Obaseki Over Proposed Return of Artefacts

The Benin Bronzes in the British Museum.
30 June 2021

A coalition of Benin youth groups yesterday kicked against the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki's move to build Edo Museum of West African Arts that will house the proposed repatriated artefacts.

The opposition by the youth groups came barely one week after Obaseki, during the 2021 National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), unveiled plans for Edo State Cultural District Pavilion in Benin-city.

However, in a statement jointly signed by the President, National Union of Edo South Youth, Osaghae Collins; President, Benin Solidarity Movement, Mr. Curtis Ugbor, and President, One Love Foundation, Patrick Elohor, vowed to resist any attempt by the state government to preside or decide where the artefacts to be received would to be housed.

The coalition insisted that the Royal Museums must be built directly opposite the Oba of Benin Palace, adding that "any structure that must be erected must get an approval and must be guided by the royal home of the Oba of Benin."

The groups further noted that: "The major stakeholders in the affairs of the Benin Kingdom have agreed, designed and proposed a place that will store the awaited artefacts.

"The board set up by Obaseki, Edo Museum of West African Arts (EMOWAA), is an attempt to re-loot and steal the artefacts for the second time, and we demand its dissolution with immediate effect. The Benin Traditional Council and the Oba of Benin must oversee every activity as it concerns the return of the artefacts.

"We also demand the financial records received by the state government and the Legacy Restoration Trust (LRT) in respect to the Benin bronze from across the world within two weeks."

According to the leaders of the coalition, the Legacy Restoration Trust is a private company set up by some persons who are allegedly trying to re-loot the Benin artefacts, and as such cannot be trusted.

"We also state that LRT is a private company set up by some persons, who are struggling to re-loot the Benin artefacts. By this, they cannot be trusted," the groups declared.

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