The Nigerian Government in its committed efforts towards exploring diplomatic and institutional channels in retrieving stolen priceless artefacts has received one of such intercepted in Mexico City, Mexico.
The Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, while receiving the artefact from the Charge de Affaires of the Nigerian Mission in Mexico, Dr. Yakubu Dadu, stated that the government remains unswerving in ensuring that the cultural artefacts stolen from the country and scattered in different parts of world are recovered and returned.
The recovered sculpture is of a man sitting cross-legged, wearing a headgear and holding an object.
It has been confirmed to be an ancient sculpture that originated from Ife, Osun State, South-West Nigeria.
Process of recovery
Onyeama said the process of recovering the valuable cultural possession commenced in 2017 when the former Nigerian Ambassador of Nigeria to Mexico, Ambassador Aminu Alhaji Iyawa, incidentally saw a bronze head suspected to be of Nigerian origin at the Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City.
“Upon further enquiries and with the collaboration of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture and relevant Mexican focal institutions, it was established that the bronze head originated from Nigeria.
Following concerted efforts of the Mission together with the joint efforts of the customs of Mexico and the United States, the bronze head was impounded and handed over to the Nigerian Mission by the Deputy Foreign Minister of Mexico, Ambassador Julian Ventura in a historic ceremony on February 25, 2020.
Beyond the national value to Nigeria, the bronze figure is an object of iconic cultural, traditional and religious importance to the Yoruba people,as well as a critical part of their history and heritage resources”, he said.
The Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged all well-meaning Nigerians and friends of the country to notify relevant agencies of artefacts suspected to be of Nigerian origin where they find any such as the present government is willing to engage and return such priceless assets.
Officials of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments were present at the event.