The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has applauded the move by The Guardian, a respected United Kingdom (UK) daily newspaper, calling for records of artworks originating from the Benin Kingdom held in private collections across the UK, noting that the move will strengthen efforts on the return of the artworks to Nigeria.
Governor Obaseki and the Royal Court of Benin Kingdom in collaboration with an international coalition, the Benin Dialogue Group, have been at the forefront of efforts to retrieve the artworks looted during the 1897 punitive expedition by the British Empire in Benin Kingdom.
The governor said the public call by the Guardian UK seeking information on where Benin artworks are being held or sited, is a commendable gesture in pooling information on the artworks to speed up efforts to track the distribution of the sacred pieces, which now command immense interest and followership across the world.
According to him, “I want to specially appreciate the Guardian UK for the public call. It is such an innovative approach that would ensure we make concrete headway in the campaign to retrieve these artworks. It also goes to show the general temperament of important stakeholders in the efforts at restitution.
“Working with the Benin Dialogue Group, we have also made a lot of progress in developing the Benin Royal Museum where most of the artwork would be held and exhibited when they are finally brought back to the Benin Kingdom. We are in the process of setting up the Museum Trust, as we are deeply committed to the realisation of this project.”
The Benin Dialogue group is made up of key museums across Europe, who are working with the Edo State Government and the Royal Court of Benin for the retrieval of the artworks and building the right infrastructure to hold them in Benin City, the Edo State capital.