Buhari orders return of repatriated artifacts to Benin palace

Return of the cockerel statue looted from Benin

Master of Jesus College Sonita Alleyne, left and Director General of Nigeria's National Commission for Museums and Monuments Professor Abba Isa Tijani pose with Benin cockerel statue

By Jethro Ibileke

President Mohammadu Buhari has directed Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Britain, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola, to return Benin artworks which were recently repatriated from Jesus College, Cambridge and University of Aberdeen, Scotland, to the Benin Palace.

The presidential directive to return the Benin antiquities to the palace of the Oba of Benin was contained in a statement by the Secretary of Benin Traditional Council, Frank Irabor, dated Friday, 3 December, 2021.

The statement reads in part: “This very unique and auspicious occasion would take place on Monday, 13th December, 2021 at 11 a.m prompt, in Oba Palace, Benin City.

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“Furthermore, this very traditional and royal event will also be an occasion to mark the celebration of the fifth coronation anniversary of His Royal Majesty, which came up on 20 October, 2021, which celebration was postponed in honor of late Captain Wells Idahosa Okunbo.

“The general public is hereby invited to join His Royal Majesty in receiving the Benin Bronze cast of Okpa “Cockerel” and Benin Bronze burst of an Oba both from Jesus College, Cambridge in Britain and Aberdeen in Scotland,

“His Royal Majesty, Benin Royal family and the good people of Edo State thank Mr. President for this directive.

“This further shows that the Federal Government is the only constitutional authority to receive in custody Benin bronzes and other artefacts before being sent to their original owner, the Oba of Benin.”

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