Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed, calls for the repatriation of looted Nigerian artefacts

Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed, has
renewed his call for the repatriation of all looted Nigerian artefacts and taken abroad, while commending those countries that have heeded the call
by returning such antiquities.

In a statement signed by Segun Adeyemi, special assistant to the Minister, to mark the 2021
International Museum Day, the Minister also appealed to Nigerians,especially the elite, to join the ongoing campaign to repatriate all looted Nigerian artefacts.

He thanked individual Nigerians who have established private
museums as well as those who support the various public museums with
their hard-earned resources, saying the elite in particular can offer support by adopting museums in their neighbourhoods
Lai Mohammed said the campaign for the repatriation of looted artefacts, which was launched by the federal government in October 2019, has yielded fruits, with the spate of return of stolen Nigerian antiquities from around the world.

He expressed appreciation to the German government and German museums,
both of which are presently in the forefront of repatriating Nigerian antiquities.

Listing the efforts being made by the federal government to recover looted artefacts, the Minister said Nigeria has caused a claim to be
instituted before the UNESCO’s mediation body, the Intergovernmental
Committee for the Promotion of Return of Cultural Property (ICPRCP),
for the return of an Ife bronze object to Nigeria, marking the first time ever that Nigeria will institute a claim before this
international panel.

The Ife bronze head, which was stolen from the National Museum in Jos
in 1987, was acquired by an art gallery owner in Belgium, who is now demanding money from Nigeria before releasing it.

The Minister recalled that in January 2020, he met the Secretary of State for Culture of the United Kingdom to press Nigeria’s demand for
the release of the said Ife bronze head, which is now being kept in
the British Museum, expressing the hope that the matter would soon be resolved in favour of Nigeria.

Equally after a vigorous pursuit, the United States has approved
Nigeria’s request, under the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA).

The import of this approval the minister said is that any cultural property that is 250 years or older can never enter the United States of America from Nigeria, unless with the official imprimatur of Nigeria, saying such antiquities will be
returned to Nigeria from the US border without the need for expensive litigations or diplomatic shuttles.

On the home front, Lai Mohammed said in order to forestall further theft of the country’s antiquities and other heritage properties and
to enthrone better management in this field, a law has been placed
pertaining to the sector before the National Assembly, believing it
will be given every support and ensure its expeditious passage.
Reflecting on the theme for this year’s International Museum Day, which is ‘The Future of Museums: Recover and Imagine’, he said the
theme has its background in the changes the world has experienced in the past year because of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The minister added that it is hoped that the expected full recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic will be the harbinger of a reimagining that will enable us to leverage on
the areas in which we have comparative advantage on arts and culture – in order to re-launch Nigeria back to the world.

The International Museum Day is celebrated on May 18 every year to bring knowledge and information about museums to the people and to
introduce museums to the communities.

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