The Federal Government of Nigeria has acceded to the Palace of Benin Monarch, the ownership and control over all the repatriated looted Benin Court Arts, from the palace in 1897 and elsewhere in Benin City.
This latest development is contained in a Gazette that has been issued, recognizing ownership and vesting custody and management of all repatriated Benin Court Arts.
A Government Notice No. 25 in Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No. 57, Volume 110 dated March 28, 2023 and titled: “Notice of Presidential Declaration – on the Recognition of Ownership, and an order vesting custody and Management of Repatriated looted Benin Artefacts in the Oba of Benin kingdom”, ordered that the “ownership of artefacts looted from the ancient Palace of the Oba and other parts of Benin Kingdom be and is vested in the Oba.”
It also ordered that “custody of the repatriated artefacts, shall, from wherever and whenever they are brought into Nigeria, be handed over to the Oba as the original owner and custodian of the culture, heritage and tradition of the people of Benin Kingdom in Edo State of Nigeria.”
The gazette stated that: “…repatriated artefacts may be kept within the Palace of the Oba or such other locations within Benin City, or other place that the Oba and the Federal Government of Nigeria may consider secure and safe.
“The Oba shall be responsible for the management of all places where the repatriated artefacts are domiciled or located.
“The Oba shall work jointly with any recognized national or international institution to ensure the preservation and security of the repatriated artefacts for the benefits of humanity, and repatriated artefacts shall not be taken out of the designated custody without the written consent and authorization of the Oba, and upon such return, the artefacts shall first be inspected and authenticated by the Oba before it us accepted and restored to its designated custody.” The letters of the Gazette added.