FG Return Two Looted Artefacts From Germany To Oba of Benin

The Federal Government of Nigeria has handed over two looted artefacts returned by Germany to the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, in Benin City. 

The artefacts, which include a bronze Royal Stool and a wooden Royal Stool (Ekete), were formally presented to the Benin monarch at his palace on Saturday, May 18, 2024, by Mr. Olugbile Holloway, Director-General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM).

These artefacts, dating back to the reigns of Oba Eresoyen and Oba Esigie several centuries ago, were looted during the British punitive expedition of 1897 under the rule of Oba Ovoranmwen Nogbasi. After being returned by Germany in 2022, they were temporarily housed by the NCMM.

Mr. Holloway, speaking at the handover ceremony, reiterated the NCMM’s commitment to collaborating with the Benin Royal Court to preserve and showcase Edo heritage. He highlighted the ongoing efforts to repatriate Benin Bronzes and other artworks taken during the colonial era, emphasizing their importance not only to Benin but to Nigeria as a whole.

“What you see before us were originally taken away from the Royal family in 1897. We have a stool made of bronze and a wooden stool,” Holloway noted. He expressed the NCMM’s dedication to supporting the Royal Court in creating a world-class destination for showcasing these cultural treasures.

In response, the Oba of Benin expressed his gratitude to the German Government, the Federal Government of Nigeria, and the NCMM leadership for their efforts in returning the artefacts. The monarch, visibly moved, performed a traditional dance and offered prayers to Almighty God and his ancestors in appreciation.

In a historic moment during the ceremony, Oba Ewuare II sat on one of the returned royal stools, symbolizing the artefacts’ restoration to their rightful place within the Benin Kingdom.

This handover marks a significant step in the broader movement to reclaim and restore Nigeria’s cultural heritage, reinforcing the enduring legacy of the Benin Kingdom and its contributions to global art and history.