Federal government has demanded a full and unconditional return of the 1,130 Benin Bronzes that were looted from the African nation in the 19th century and domiciled in German museums.
The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the demand in Berlin, Germany, yesterday, during separate meetings with the German minister of State for Culture, Prof. Monika Grutters, and the German Foreign Minister, Mr. Heiko Maas.
Reacting to comments by Prof. Grutters that Germany was ready to make a ‘substantial return’ of the 1,130 looted artefacts, Mohammed, who led the Nigerian delegation to the talks, said the return should be whole rather than substantial.
He also said the issue of provenance, which has to do with the place of origin of the artefacts, should not be allowed to unduly delay the repatriation of the artworks, adding: ‘’That they are known as Benin Bronzes is already a confirmation of their source of origin (which is Benin).’’
Later, at a meeting with the German Foreign Minister, Mohammed said there should be ‘’absolutely no conditions attached’’ to the return of the artefacts, which he described as an idea whose time has come.
Saying there was the need for the parties to commit to definite timelines for the return of the Benin Bronzes, the minister of Information and Culture said it was necessary to conclude all necessary negotiations in a very short term.
He said the ongoing discussion between Nigeria and Germany on the return of the artworks is not just the end of an era but the beginning of a new vista of stronger relations, pivoted by cultural diplomacy, between both countries.
The governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who is also a member of the Nigerian delegation, said a ‘’transformational’’ museum is being built-in Benin city to house the artefacts upon their return, as part of a new cultural district in the city.
Germany To Return Looted Benin Bronzes To Nigeria(Opens in a new browser tab)