London museum transfers ownership of looted Benin artefacts to Nigeria

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The Horniman Museum, based in south-east London, the United Kingdom, has kick-started the process of returning looted Benin bronzes to Nigeria.

 

NAN reports that the ownership of 72 artefacts forcefully taken from Benin in 1897 was handed over to the Nigerian government on Monday.

 

The museum was quoted as saying the gesture is a “moral and appropriate” response to the request for repatriation by Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM).

 

Godwin Obaseki, Edo state governor, Nick Merriman, chief executive of the Horniman Museum and Gardens, and Abba Tijani, NCMM director-general, were present at the handover ceremony.

Merriman, who said the Horniman had been an “excellent example” of leadership, stated that “journalists who ask me about the Benin return always want to ask me about the British Museum.

 

“I would rather talk about what an excellent example the Horniman is rather than answer questions about the British Museum.”

 

NAN reports that an agreement between the NCMM and the Horniman will allow most of the artefacts to stay in Britain on loan, with the second phase of physical repatriations to follow in due course.

 

The NCMM director-general added that about 5,000 Benin bronzes are currently “scattered” around the world.

 

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