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PDP chieftain, Orbih, hails Oba of Benin for return of looted artefacts



Oba of Benin speaks on covid-19

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national vice-chairman, South-south, Chief Dan Orbih, has commended the Palace of the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, over the return of two bronze artefacts looted during the British invasion of 1897.

Historical reports say the Benin Kingdom lost thousands of the archeological treasures in the 19th century during the invasion of British soldiers. 100 years later and these sculptures became exhibits for museums across Britain.

Many failed attempts had been made by the Nigerian government to repatriate the looted artefacts.

However, in October 2021, the artefact known as Okukor or Cockrel, was returned to the Benin kingdom by Jesus College of the Cambridge University, England while the University of Aberdeen handed over the head of an Oba sculpture.

In a statement commending this achievement, Chief Orbih, acknowledged the challenges faced and congratulated the Oba of Benin for overcoming those challenges.

READ ALSO: Repatriation of 1,130 looted artefacts from Germany on course – Lai Mohammed

He said in a statement on Monday; “Your Royal Majesty, your ascendancy to the throne has brought lots of good tidings to the kingdom, and this must be acknowledged.

“No doubt, this event has attracted increased global respect for the Great Benin Kingdom and your reign.

“Your Majesty, I am not unaware of the challenges you faced in achieving this landmark and it is my prayer that God Almighty grant you more grit and grace as we look forward to the return of many other artefacts.

He stated that “we look forward to more returns of looted artefacts from UK, Germany and other countries directly to their Original base (Your Palace)”.

The process of legal transfer of the artefact from the University of Aberdeen started in March 2020. On the 28th of October 2021, the head of Oba sculpture was received by Benin delegates at the university.

According to Professor George Boyne, principal and vice-chancellor of Aberdeen University, the return of an item with such cultural and religious relevance was the right thing to do.

The sculpture was returned days after the Jesus College in Cambridge also returned the Cockerel artefact, presenting it to Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM).

The Oba Ewuare II expressed appreciation towards the schools for facilitating the return of the sculptures and hoped that it would prompt other countries to return looted artefacts.

The Special Adviser on Media Project to Governor Godwin Obaseki, Crusoe Osagie also commended the Oba of Benin on the return of the prized bronzes. He recalled the misunderstanding of the Federal government and Edo government over the resting place of the sculptures and advised that the achievement be taken as a joint win.

By Ijeoma Ilekanachi

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