Abuja — The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has formally received the repatriated Ife Terracotta from his Foreign Affairs counterpart, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, in company of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Nigeria, Mr. Harry van Dijk.
While receiving the artifact in his office in Abuja yesterday, Mohammed said the return of the stolen Ife Terracotta marked a milestone in Nigeria’s efforts at pursuing the return of the country’s antiquities.
He said the Ife Terracotta was smuggled from Nigeria through Ghana to The Netherlands in 2019 with a forged document.
« It gives me profound joy to receive this very important antiquity, an Ife Terracotta, which is dated to be at least 600 years old. I am even more delighted that our efforts at pursuing the return of Nigerian antiquities, which we launched last November, have started yielding fruits, » he said.
« One way of generating income for the country is if our cultural properties are exhibited around the world to a fee-paying audience, on the basis of proper agreement that acknowledges us as owners and confers the right benefits on us. But this is not possible for as long as most of them adorn the museums and private collections of others, who describe them as their properties, » he said.
The minister, who described the handing over of the artifact as a new beginning, said apart from the pecuniary benefits, the priceless objects wrought by the nation’s forebears are unifying factors among the diverse cultures in the country.
Article written by Olawale Ajimotokan