From Tony Osauzo, Benin
The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, has clarified that there is no dispute over the ownership of thousands of Benin artefacts taken from the palace of the Oba of Benin in 1897 during the British invasion of the kingdom which are now scattered across Europe, United States and other parts of the world.
He made the clarification when the Chairman of DAAR Communications, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, paid a courtesy visit on the palace to celebrate with him on his birthday and his fifth coronation anniversary.
He commended the efforts of the Oba to bring back the artworks, saying “the good people of Edo State 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 Benin monarch also dispelled speculation that some of the works were not taken from the palace but elsewhere even as he commended the federal government and the Director General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) for the support.
Besides, he commended Dokpesi for taking the lead in private broadcasting in Nigeria despite unfriendly environments.
The Oba revealed that Cambridge University in the United Kingdom which his father, Oba Erediauwa attended, would soon return some artefacts from Benin in its custody.
“We hear that some researchers in Germany have said that some of them were produced here, some were produced there and so on and so forth but this here and there, 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 queried.
The Oba explained that the artefacts would be domiciled in a museum planned to be built opposite the palace.
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