The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has charged foreign nations to return the artefacts they stole from the country, stressing that the Federal government has initiated a campaign for the return and restitution of Nigeria’s stolen artefacts from around the world.
In a statement by Segun Adeyemi, his Special Assistant(Media), Mohamed disclosed that the London Metropolitan Police seized Ife Bronze Head and urged Nigeria to make a claim or it will be returned to the person laying claims to the artefact.
He said: “After it was brought to an auction in London two years ago, the auction house observed that it was an Ife Bronze Head, which belongs to the International Council of Museums Red List of cultural goods deemed to be most vulnerable to illicit traffic.
“Now, the London Metropolitan Police have seized the object and invited Nigeria to make a claim, otherwise they will have to return it to the fellow claiming ownership. We have now started work on the return of the Ife Bronze Head to Nigeria.”
He continued “With this announcement, we are putting on notice all those who are holding on to Nigeria’s cultural property anywhere in the world that we are coming for them, using all legal and diplomatic instruments available.
“Gentlemen, we are under no illusion that this will be an easy task, but no one should also doubt our determination to make a success of this campaign.”
“We have never laid claim to the Mona Lisa or a Rembrandt. Those who looted our heritage resources, especially during the 19th century wars, or those who smuggled them out of the country for pecuniary reasons, have simply encouraged the impoverishment of our heritage and stealing of our past.
“These timeless and priceless pieces of art work were an important part of the nation’s past, its history, and heritage resource. Allowing them to sit in the museums of other nations robs Nigeria of our history.”