US museums return trove of looted treasures to Nigeria.
Forty years to the day after the British looted Nigeria’s golden treasure, the country’s National Museums in the northern Nigerian city of Abuja have returned the relics to the state government.
The first batch of five historical artefacts was handed over on Monday to Nigeria’s minister for antiquities, Tijjani Muhammad Balarabe Musa, as part of a formal exchange.
The other six, including a 17th Century wooden chair and an ancient ceremonial knife, were expected to be taken to the Abuja National Museum later this month.
The government will also receive the artefacts from the British Museum, according to the museum.
The artefacts include jewellery, paintings, weapons and ceramics from the 16th to 18th Century that were kept in the British Museum and that were eventually returned to Nigeria.
The museum is also returning to Nigeria some pieces of jewellery used by an important ruler, believed to be Obubu, the 19th century king of Benin. The artefacts were kept in the British Museum in an exhibition of African antiquities.
“We are happy we are returning the artefacts to the government in Nigeria as the museum is also a national museum and as such we look forward to being able to display them to the Nigerian public,” the museum’s director, Dr A.I.K. Oladokun, said in a statement on Monday.
The return of the artefacts to Nigeria is part of the museum’s “exchange programme”, designed to share the cultural heritage of Nigeria with its neighbour.
The museum’s curator, Oladipupo Badejo, said the relics had arrived in Nigeria and were being kept at his institution before they were to be taken to Abuja, where the Nigerian government is located.
Oladokun said he