The Federal Government has inaugurated the Campaign For The Return and Restitution of Nigeria’s Looted/Smuggled Artifacts from around the world.
Announcing the inauguration at a media briefing in Lagos, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said government is putting on notice all those who are holding on to the nation’s cultural property anywhere in the world to return them
“We are coming for them, using all legal and diplomatic instruments available.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 cannot imagine by what logic an Ife Bronze or a Benin Bronze or a Nok Terracotta can belong to any other part of the globe except to the people of Nigeria, whose ancestors made them. 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,” he said.
The campaign, he said, is statutorily supported by UNESCO and ECOWAS. Article 4 of the UNESCO 1970 Convention. The Convention, to which most nations subscribe, identifies the categories of cultural property that form part of the cultural heritage of each member state, thereby belonging to that State.
The minister added that by the provisions of the Article, they include cultural property created by the individual or collective genius of nationals of the State concerned.
“They also include cultural property which has been the subject of a freely agreed exchange or received as a gift or purchased legally with the consent of the competent authorities of the country of origin of such property,” he said.