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Nigeria: Edo Govt Insists On Repatriation of Artifacts

By Francis Onoiribholo - Daily Independent

Governor Adams Oshiomhole has expressed his administration's desire to ensure that all artifacts looted at various times or removed illegally from their original places, including museums and private homes in Edo State are brought back.

Oshiomhole stated this in Benin when the management of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments paid him a visit at the Government House.

Represented by his Special Adviser on Culture and Tourism, Mr. Orobosa Omo-Ojo, the governor disclosed that the state government was ready to partner with the Federal Government through the ministry in ensuring that the recovery of the stolen artifacts was realised.

According to him, "Under UNESCO Convention of 1970 countries agreed on measures to prevent the illegal export of national treasures.

"It is the belief of Edo State Government that Nigeria can explore some possibilities at the United Nations to seek arbitration, especially the senseless 1897 British attack on Oba Ovoramwen and the people of Benin that dislocated the natives spiritually and psychologically."

He said Edo State would not remain silent in the face of the depletion of its cultural resources, adding that the artefacts were not only spiritual and cultural icons but have enormous financial worth. He said it was their duty to halt the continuous plundering of the state's resources.

On the demolition of some structures in the museum, Oshiomhole explained that the state government acted on the information it received on the museum, saying that the museum's originality had been altered with all sorts of illegal structures in its premises hence government acted on the information.

He disclosed that a fountain was under construction at the premises of the museum, which he said, was aimed at beautifying it and restoring its past glory.

Director General of National Commission for Museum and |Monument, Mallam Yusuf Abdallah Usman, however, lauded the state governor for his electoral victory and the successes his administration had recorded in the last one year, which he said, ranges from the massive road construction in Benin City and other towns in Edo State.

He stated that the development of management plan for Edo Cultural properties involve all relevant stakeholders, adding that it is the only way to ensure successful cultural heritage.

While noting that the demolition of some structures in the premises of the museum affected some monuments, the DG observed that some of the buildings were historical monuments and facilities that support museum activities.

He said the demolished structures last year included the 1800 Colonial Treasury, the Multi-purpose Auditorium Hall, the Craft Shop, the Security Post, and the Earth construction building within the premises.

While pleading with the state Government to help preserve monuments, he stated that some of the structures demolished had been earmarked for rehabilitation in the Presidential Restoration Committee on Museums and Achieves, adding that the structures had been advertised in the Federal Tenders journal.