The federal government says the repatriation of the 1,130 looted Benin bronzes from Germany to Nigeria is on track and the matter is on the front burner of both countries. Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja, when he received a delegation from Germany to follow up on issues of repatriation of the bronzes.
The delegation, led by Dr. Andreas Gorgen, the DirectorGeneral for Culture and Communication of the German Federal Foreign Office, was accompanied by the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Birgitt Ory. “I am glad that you have come and this has reinforced the fact that we are on track. Your visit has buttressed the intention of the two parties towards working out the return of the artefacts.
“I want to reiterate here that the return of the artefacts will not be the end of an era but rather the beginning of further cooperation between the two countries,’’ the minister said. Mohammed expressed satisfaction with the memorandum of understanding earlier signed between the delegation and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM). He said the memorandum of understanding, which was about confidence building between the parties, had underscored the fact that no one was reneging on the agreement reached on the return of the cultural objects. He added that the memorandum of understanding also showed that everybody was being carried along to ensure a successful completion of transfer of the artefacts. “I know the burden back home in Germany as your people will be asking, why are they returning the artefacts to Nigeria given the fact they did not steal them.