The Nigerian Government and Germany have signed a historic joint declaration that will pave the way for the return of 1,130 Benin bronzes to Nigeria.
Nigeria’s Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and the Min. of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada, signed for Nigeria, while the Min. of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Ms Annalena Baerbock, and the Min. of State for Culture and the Media, Ms. Claudia Roth, signed for Germany.
The looted bronzeslooted bronzes are expected to return to Nigeria 125 years after they were looted from the ancient Benin Kingdom during the Benin Expedition of 1897.
What the FG is saying
The Minister of Information and Culture pointed out that Germany did not colonize Nigeria and was not part of the looting of the artefacts, adding that many of the Benin Bronzes in German public institutions got there via trade and donations.
The minister recalled that the artefacts were looted from the ancient Benin Kingdom during the Benin Expedition of 1897 by the British force.
Mohammed thanked the government and people of Germany for what he described as the ”single largest repatriation of artefacts anywhere in the world”.
”We also want to most sincerely thank the authorities of the various German regions, cities, museums and institutions that have been working in concert to ensure the manifestation of the history-making event that we are witnessing today.
“By this singular action, Germany has taken the lead in correcting the wrongs of the past,” he said.
Also Speaking, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Ms. Baerbock, said: “It was wrong to take the (Benin) bronzes. It was wrong to keep them for (125 years). This is the beginning to right the wrong.”
In a symbolic gesture signifying the impending return of the artefacts, two of the Benin Bronzes were handed over to Nigeria at the signing ceremony.
It will be recalled that agency reports last October, 2021, gave the hint that the Federal Government of Nigeria had revealed that the repatriation of 1,130 looted Benin bronzes from Germany to Nigeria was on track and currently being negotiated by both nations, adding that the return of the artefacts will further cement the relationship between Nigeria and Germany.
As of July 10, 2021, the Federal Government of Nigeria had proposed a year time limit for the full return of all the artefacts from Germany.