Federal Government to Take Custody of Benin Artefacts, not Edo State- Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government has announced that it would take delivery of the stolen Benin artefacts when they are eventually returned.

The Minister for Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed said this on Saturday as he addressed questions regarding the tussle between Governor Godwin Obaseki and the paramount ruler of Benin Kingdom, Oba Ewuare II.

The Governor had said it would be best if the returned artefacts were managed by a private firm, while the Monarch opted for a museum to be built within the confines of the Palace and the artefacts, numbering over a thousand, kept in it.

But Lai Mohammed said that only the Federal Government is the recognised party in the eyes of the nation of Germany, where the artefacts are to be retrieved from.

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He said, “The Federal Government is aware of the widely-reported controversy over who will take possession of the Benin Bronzes when they are returned from Germany.

“Let me state clearly here that, in line with international best practice and the operative Conventions and laws, the return of the artefacts is being negotiated bilaterally between the national governments of Nigeria and Germany.”“Nigeria is the entity recognised by international law as the authority in control of antiquities originating from Nigeria. What we’re saying in essence is that the federal government will take possession of these antiquities, because it’s its duty to do so, in line with the extant laws,’’ he added.

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