The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed on Tuesday disclosed that the biggest achievement of his Ministry in the terms of culture and tourism is the repatriation of hundreds of looted artefacts.
Speaking at the 26th edition of the President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) Administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023) in Abuja, Mohammed said a total of 1,130 Benin Bronze were recovered.
“During the period under review, efforts to repatriate artefacts looted from Nigeria – which we launched Nov. 28th 2019 – paid off handsomely, with a total of 1,130 Benin Bronzes heading home from Germany alone.
“The legal transfer of the Benin Bronzes to Nigeria of all the 1,130 Benin Bronzes in all German public museums was signed on July 7, 2022.
“The physical return has since commenced with the first batch accompanied to Nigeria in December 2022 by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Culture of Germany and an entourage of 80 top government and museums officials.
“Nigeria is currently at the forefront of global efforts on repatriation of antiquities to their countries of origin,”.
Additionally, the Minister said his ministry also succeeded in repatriating a 600-year-old Ife Terracotta from the Netherlands in October 2020 and added that the Benin Bronzes were also repatriated from the University of Aberdeen, Jesus College of the University of Cambridge, and the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
He further said the Horniman Museums and Gardens in London also in October 2022 signed the legal transfer of 72 Benin Bronzes while noting that his ministry was at an advanced stage of securing the repatriation of hundreds of antiquities from the Pitt Rivers Museum of the University of Oxford and the Ashmolean Museum of the University of Oxford.
He said hundreds of antiquities were also to be repatriated from the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology of the University of Cambridge; Glasgow City Council in Scotland and the National Museums of Scotland.
The minister disclosed that the Federal Government had begun the expansion of the National Museum, Benin City, to house some of the antiquities.
He added that the was working on developing a Royal Benin Museum.