Oba: No dispute over ownership of Benin artefacts

The Oba of Benin Kingdom, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, has declared that there is no dispute over the ownership of numerous Benin artefacts taken from the palace of the royal family in 1897 during the British invasion of the kingdom, which are now scattered across Europe, the United States and other parts of the world.

The monarch stated this when he received in his palace, the Chairman of DAAR Communications, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, who paid a courtesy visit on him on his birthday and the fifth coronation anniversary, where he commended the efforts of the Oba in bringing back the artworks.

Oba Ewuare II said: “The fortunes are behind you in all your efforts to ensure that all the artefacts that were taken away from here are brought back and restored.”

The Oba also dispelled speculations that some of the works were not taken from the palace but elsewhere, just as he commended the federal government and the Director-General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) for their support to get the artefacts back.

While commending Dokpesi for taking the lead in private broadcasting in Nigeria despite the unfriendly environment, the Oba revealed that Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, which his father, Oba Erediauwa, attended, would soon return some artefacts in its custody to Benin.

According to him, “We hear that some researchers in Germany have stated that some of them were produced here; some were produced there, and so on and so forth, but where are these here and there? Were they outside the Benin Empire? Where they outside the Benin Kingdom? Were any of the artefacts produced outside the Benin Kingdom? If they were all produced in the Benin kingdom, why would any researcher try to say some were taken out of Benin Palace and some were taken from elsewhere? All elsewhere or wherever they are talking about, are they not all under the authority of the Oba of Benin? Are they not all under the Benin Empire?”

He said the planned museum to house the artefacts would be domiciled in a building opposite the palace.

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