The Nigerian Government has informed the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the 1,130 Benin Bronze artefacts looted from the Bini Kingdom in 1897 must be returned in a year, under a proposed deal for the full return of the country’s artefacts from Germany.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, during a round-table with German Museum Directors and government officials in Berlin, Germany.
Lai Mohammed also added that the agreement for the repatriation of the Benin Bronzes from Germany must be signed by December 2021.
”For us, the most important issue in the road map is the signing of the agreement and the date of return. We won’t move forward if we don’t have a clear date on signing and return. Full return should be completed in a year’s time, not beyond August 2022,” he told participants at the round-table.
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He added that Nigerians are eagerly awaiting the return of the 1,130 Benin Bronzes, which are being held by various museums in Germany.
Secretary of State in the German President’s office, Mr Stephen Steinlein, said the President is happy with the progress made so far on the planned repatriation of the artefacts, citing that the planned return of the artefacts as ”a lighthouse project.” He assured that the President would continue to follow the process keenly.
The German government says it is coordinating the return of the Benin Bronzes, which are mostly held by state and private museums. Of the 6,600 museums in Germany, less than five per cent are owned by the government.
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Nairametrics reported recently that the Nigerian government stated that it wants the full and unconditional return of the 1,130 Benin Bronzes that were looted from Nigeria in the 19th century and domiciled in German museums.