The Federal Government has issued a gazette recognizing ownership and vesting custody and management of repatriated Benin Artefacts in the Oba of Benin.
With the official gazette, the dispute over the ownership, custody and management of the repatriated looted Benin artefacts between the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, and Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has finally been laid to rest.
A Government Notice No. 25 in Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No. 57, Volume 110 dated March 28, 2023 and titled: “Notice of Presidential Declaration – on the Recognition of Ownership, and an order vesting custody and Management of Repatriated looted Benin Artefacts in the Oba of Benin kingdom” , ordered that the “ownership of artefacts looted from the ancient Palace of the Oba and other parts of Benin Kingdom be and is vested in the Oba.”
It also ordered that “custody of the repatriated artefacts, shall, from wherever and whenever they are brought into Nigeria, be handed over to the Oba as the original owner and custodian of the culture, heritage and tradition of the people of Benin Kingdom in Edo State of Nigeria.”
The gazette said the “repatriated artefacts may be kept within the Palace of the Oba or such other locations within Benin City, or other place that the Oba and the Federal Government of Nigeria may consider secure and safe. “
It further ordered that the “Oba shall be responsible for the management of all places where the repatriated artefacts are domiciled or located.”
It added that the “Oba shall work jointly with any recognized national or international institution to ensure the preservation and security of the repatriated artefacts for the benefits of humanity, and repatriated artefacts shall not be taken out of the designated custody without the written consent and authorization of the Oba, and upon such return, the artefacts shall first be inspected and authenticated by the Oba before it us accepted and restored to its designated custody.”