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Over Two Decades and Half after Demand, Sweden to Return 39 Stolen Artefacts to Benin Palace - TELL Magazine

Over Two Decades and Half after Demand, Sweden to Return 39 Stolen Artefacts to Benin Palace

Oba Ewuare 11 Receives Looted Artefacts from Britain
Oba Ewuare 11 Receives Looted Artefacts from Britain

About 26 years after he entreated the Swedish government, then as Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Scandinavian countries, to return the Benin artefacts in her custody to the original owners, the Benin monarch, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, has welcome the decision by Sweden to grant his request. The then Crown Prince of Benin Kingdom, and Diplomat, had made the request through the Swedish monarch, His Royal Majesty, Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus, when he paid him a courtesy visit in 1998.

According to a press statement by Osaigbovo Iguobaro, chief press secretary to the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare 11 was responding to the announcement by Swedish Ambassador to Nigeria, Her Excellency, Annika Hahn-Englund, to the effect that the government of her country had resolved to return 39 pieces of Benin Bronzes in her Museum to the Benin Palace when she paid him a courtesy visit on Wednesday.

Recall that the Federal Republic of Nigeria Gazette No. 57, Volume 110 at pages A245-247 issued March 23, 2023, had recognised ownership of repatriated artefacts, and vested their Custody and Management in the Oba of Benin.

Ambassador Hahn-Englund informed the royal father that Sweden and Nigeria, which is the second largest market in Sub-Sahara Africa, are trading partners, including in areas of infrastructure, Telecommunication, Energy and other businesses that supported the economies significantly.

The Swedish envoy said while paying her respect to Oba Ewuare II: “Also, I would like to mention the cooperation we have in culture, education with Nigeria; I would like to mention the decision of why the Swedish government has to return 39 Artefacts to Benin Kingdom. So, your Majesty, I am very honoured to be here tonight”.

Responding, Oba Ewuare II, on behalf of Edo people, welcomed the decision, and expressed his deepest gratitude to the Swedish government for the intervention. The Benin monarch recalled how he made a request through the Swedish monarch in 1998 to return Benin Bronzes in Sweden during his courtesy visit to him as Nigeria’s Ambassador to Scandinavian countries.

The traditional ruler disclosed that the federal government-backed Benin Royal Museum project is still on course, and commended partners for their support and devotion towards the project.

The Oba also commended the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) which is an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria responsible for the preservation, promotion, and development of Nigeria’s cultural heritage.

The traditional ruler who prayed for members of the Diplomatic Mission, shared a captivating tale of his diplomatic exploits as Ambassador in the Scandinavian countries, noting that the remarkable reign and enduring affection of the Swedish monarch, His Royal Majesty, Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus, remained indelible.

According to Oba Ewuare II, the demand for the return of looted Benin Artefacts has been on since the reign of Oba Akenzua II, “and you are here today telling us that it has been approved. This has been my request long time ago. God’s time is always the best”.

To underscore the significance of the historic visit to the Palace, the Ambassador, in company with her husband, and a member of the Diplomatic Mission, presented a souvenir to Oba Ewuare II, who in reciprocation gave her a copy of the Federal Government Gazette on all Benin Artefacts.

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