The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the Federal Government has petitioned the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s mediation body, the Intergovernmental Committee for the Promotion of Return of Cultural Property, to get a stolen Ile-Ife bronze head back to the country.
The minister stated on Tuesday that the petition was part of efforts for the repatriation of all looted Nigerian artefacts.
He spoke in a release obtained by SaharaReporters to commemorate the International Museum Day 2021.
The minister recalled that the Ife bronze head, which was stolen from the National Museum in Jos in 1987, was acquired by an art gallery owner in Belgium, who is now demanding money from Nigeria before releasing it.
The minister recalled that in January 2020, he met the Secretary of State for Culture of the United Kingdom to press Nigeria's demand for the release of the said Ife bronze head, which is now being kept in the British Museum, expressing the hope that the matter would soon be resolved in favour of Nigeria.
“Also, after a vigorous pursuit, the United States has approved Nigeria’s request, under the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA). The import of this approval is that any cultural property that is 250 years or older can never enter the United States of America from Nigeria, unless with the official imprimatur of Nigeria,” he added.
The statement said further, “On the home front, Alhaji Mohammed said in order to forestall further theft of the country's antiquities and other heritage properties and to enthrone better management in this field, 'we are placing the law pertaining to this sector before the National Assembly. We know they will give it every support' and ensure its expeditious passage.”
“We hope the expected full recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic will be the harbinger of a reimagining that will enable us to leverage on the areas in which we have comparative advantage - our arts and our culture - in order to re-launch ourselves to the world,” the minister said.
The International Museum Day is celebrated on May 18 every year to bring knowledge and information about museums to the people.