US museums return trove of looted treasures to Nigeria
NEW YORK: Nigeria’s cultural ministry has returned more than 200 artifacts from its colonial-era collection to the nation, after the US and Britain declared war on Africa’s most powerful dictatorship.
An estimated 12 million pieces of art, books, documents, musical instruments and historical documents were seized from museums around Nigeria during the military’s eight-year rule, and it sent them to the US and Britain for evaluation and display.
The US State Department’s consular affairs bureau said the return of artworks represented more than “100 percent” return of objects to their rightful owners.
The move is a victory for Nigeria’s Western-sponsored Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), which has struggled against the Nigerian government’s attempt to keep the country’s cultural treasures from their rightful owners.
Nigeria’s cultural ministry issued a statement after the US and British governments declared war on the country’s decades-long dictatorship, saying it had returned the items on its own terms.
“The return of the artefacts is a triumph not only for Nigeria, but also a victory for all Western countries and the Nigerian people,” acting minister for public affairs Adeba Adebara-Wakafu said in the statement.
She said the return of the artefacts was a result of Ecowas efforts aimed at promoting the country’s recovery and preservation of its cultural heritage and traditions.
The return of the artefacts was a “victory for the Nigerian people and the Nigerian government,” she said.
A statement from the British foreign office said the consular section had “carried out an in-depth evaluation and have returned the artefacts to Nigeria on a very high level of authenticity and provenance”.
The return of the artefacts, it said, represented not only a “