Nigeria: Edo Urges British Govt to Return Stolen $17 Billion Artefacts
By: Simon Ebegbulem
15 April 2009
Edo State government has appealed to the British government to return stolen Benin artefacts estimated at over $17 billion carted away from the palace of the Oba of Benin during the British invasion of the kingdom.
It warned that it would not hesitate to commence full legal action, if the British government refused to heed to the demand, saying that as a nation that believed in the rule of law, it was expected to respect the cultural heritage of the people of the kingdom by returning the stolen artefacts.
It would be recalled that a socio-cultural group in the state, the Benin National Congress (BNC) and member representing Oredo federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Mr. Patrick Obahiagbon, had been at the fore front of the struggle for the artifacts to be returned and had even visited the United Kingdom on a number of occasions.
However, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Adams Oshiomhole on Foreign Matters-Diaspora, Mr. Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma, condemned the action of the British government so far on the matter and hinted that some chiefs in the kingdom and government officials would soon be dispatched to the UK to press further their demands.
According to him, "we have been working on this issue of our artefacts that were stolen from the palace of our Oba by the British. What we are saying is that if the British government really believes in the rule of law, they should return the artefacts they collected".
"We have been discussing this since this administration came in and the governor is worried over their reluctance to return these stolen artifacts which is very dear to the kingdom.
"They forcefully took away what does not belong to them and they have a law that says such attitude is bad.
"We are not relenting on this issue, we are going to fight with every legal means to ensure that those artifacts are returned because we are aware that they are using it to make so much money to the detriment of our people" he stated.
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