Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, has asked the federal government to take custody of the stolen Benin artefacts after they are repatriated.
It had earlier reported that the German government said it would return the 1,130 looted Benin bronzes to Nigeria in 2022.
In 1897, the Benin kingdom, which was well-known for its rich cultural heritage and artefacts, was invaded by British soldiers, in what is now known as the Benin invasion of 1897.
Thousands of bronze castings and other cultural artefacts were destroyed while some were carted away.
On thursday the federal government disclosed that Monica Grutters, German minister of state for culture, said the country is ready to make a “substantial return” of the 1,130 looted artefacts from the beginning of 2022.
Addressing a press conference on Friday, the Oba of Benin, said the stolen bronzes are not the property of the Edo state government but that of the Benin kingdom.
The Benin monarch said the “only legitimate destination for the artefacts” is under the Benin royal museum which will be sited within the vicinity of the Oba of Benin’s palace.
have called this meeting today to intimate you of the matter of the Benin artefacts in Europe on the verge of being repatriated, which I am sure you have heard and read about in recent weeks,” the Oba of Benin said.
“You may also have heard about the recent activities of a group of individuals who incorporated a company since January 2020 called Legacy Restoration Trust Limited.
“It has become germane to note that the advocacy and demands for the return of the artefacts looted from the Benin Kingdom in 1897 have been going on for decades before the emergence of the incumbent Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki. I must sincerely thank the governor for joining the struggle and showing commitment to retrieve our stolen cultural heritage from Europe.
While anticipating the return of the looted artefacts from Europe, I want to note that attempts to divert the destination or the right of custody of the artefacts is not in the interest of the people of Benin Kingdom, to whom the Palace of the Oba of Benin provides leadership.