BENIN ARTIFACTS: Return Of Benin Artifacts Should Be Whole Rather Than Substantial – Mai Mohammed.Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has insisted that the return of 1,130 stolen Benin Artifacts domiciled in German Museums must be whole rather than substantial.He disclosed this in a meeting held in Berlin, the capital city of Germany, which was attended by the German Minister of State for Culture, Prof. Monika Grutters, and Foreign Minister, Mr. Heiko Maas, Nigeria Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; the Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki and Crown Prince of Benin Kingdom, Prince Ezelekhae Ewuare.The minister said, this in the wake of remarks by Grutters that the European nation was ready to make ‘substantial return’ of the 1,130 looted artifacts.Lai Mohammed said, the issue of provenance, which has to do with the place of origin of the artifacts, should not be allowed to unduly delay the repatriation of the art works, noting that they are known as Benin Bronzes, which is already a confirmation of their source of origin which is Benin.At a separate meeting with Maas, Lai Mohammed emphasised that no condition should be attached to the return of the artifacts.The minister said, the need for the parties to commit to definite timelines for the return of the Benin Artifacts in addition to concluding all necessary negotiations in a very short term.He stressed that the discussions between Nigeria and Germany governments on the return of the artifacts was not the end of an era, but rather the beginning of a new vista of stronger relations, pivoted by cultural diplomacy between both governments.He thanked the Germany government for taking the lead in the global efforts to repatriate all artifacts that were looted from Nigeria and the African continent.“We see Germany as a leader in the efforts to take practical steps to repatriate our stolen artefacts, and we hope Germany will sustain that lead,” he asserted.Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who was also among Nigerian delegation, said a “transformational” museum is to be built in Benin City to house the artifacts upon their return as part of a new cultural district in the city.Governor Obaseki said, he was attending the discussions to demonstrate the strong partnership involving the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Benin Royal family, Benin citizens and Edo State government.In addition, the German Minister of State for Culture, Prof. Grutters, said “the way we deal with the issue of Benin Bronzes is important to addressing our colonial past,” describing the issues as “an important personal concern.”She assured the 1,130 artefacts would be returned to Nigeria from the beginning of 2022, noted that, Germany had twice sent delegations to Nigeria for talks over the planned repatriation.She said, such a move indicated that both sides had moved beyond mere talks, saying all the Museums in Germany stockpiling Benin Bronzes have agreed to cooperate.Moreso, others on the Nigerian delegation were the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Mr. Yusuf Tuggar and Director-General of the National Commission for Museums and Monument (NCMM), Prof. Abba Tijani.#VisitEdo

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