Oba of Benin, Obaseki to Build Museum to Fast-track Recovery of Stolen Artefacts

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Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

The Edo State Government in conjunction with the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, is working to build a world-class Royal Museum to hold stolen artefacts being recovered by the Benin Kingdom.

This was disclosed yesterday by the state Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, when he hosted Prof. Nicholas Thomas of the Cambridge University and Prof. Mrs. Annie Coombes of the University of London, both experts in Benin History, to a dinner at the Government House in Benin City.

The governor said the state government planned to work with the monarch to build the museum in his palace in Benin City, and counter the arguments of art collectors who are still in possession of stolen artefacts from the Benin Kingdom and have maintained that the safety of the artefacts is not guaranteed if they are returned to the ancient kingdom.

According to Obaseki, “The decision to establish a world-class museum at the Oba’s palace, one of the safest places in the world, will encourage curators across Europe and in other parts of the world to be confident and support the advocacy for the safe return of stolen artefacts of Benin Kingdom.”

He expressed appreciation to Prof. Thomas and Prof. Coombes, for their advocacy for the safe return of artefacts of the Benin Kingdom looted during the 1897 invasion.

The governor said: “We hope your experience in Benin City will encourage you to sustain the advocacy for the return of our stolen artefacts. When the artefacts are returned, they will assist generations yet unborn to understand who they are as a people and how they have dominated this environment in the past.”

In his remarks, Thomas said his experience in Benin City was exciting as the visit gave him the opportunity to see first-hand, the place where the historic stolen artefacts were fashioned in Igun Street.

Thomas said: “True knowledge about artworks is not in university museums but lies in the makers, creators, communities where these works are created.”

He noted that the advocacy for the safe return of the stolen artefacts of the Benin Kingdom would be sustained until the artworks are safely returned.