US museums return trove of looted treasures to Nigeria
July 21, 2010 14:33 IST
A collection of African artefacts looted by British colonialists in the 19th century has been returned to Nigeria by the country’s government, after a campaign by a local group.
The National Museums of Northern Nigeria (NNN) and the National Museums of Rwanda (NMOR) have returned a collection of artifacts looted by British colonialists in the 19th century to Nigeria at a ceremony in the capital Abuja today.
The collection, which includes pieces of Egyptian obelisk, a copper plate from ancient Egypt, a mummified cow and a necklace made of ivory, is valued at $300,000.
According to the museum officials, it was taken to the Nigerian capital over a three-year period by a private art dealer, who gave it to the NNN, which turned it over to the NMOR last year.
The NNN’s curator, Ayotunde Bajah, said it was returned to its rightful place after the government signed a deal last month to repatriate artefacts illegally acquired by the museum.
The NNN had been holding on to the artifacts since 1995, when the first batch of looted artifacts was returned to Nigeria following a government ruling.
But since then, the museum has had to pay $100,000 on each item and was facing closure.
The NMOR returned the collection after its curator, Professor K.U. Adeyemi, received the documents necessary to repatriate the collection.
The NMOR was set up with the aim of bringing back looted artefacts acquired by the colonialists in Rwanda to their rightful homeland.
The institute in 1995, after receiving a court order, handed over a large collection of historical artefacts, mostly African, to the government of Rwanda.
It received another court order in 2009, whereby the government of Rwanda was required to return the looted artifacts to their country of origin.
The documents are valid until January 20, 2011.The NNN did not immediately respond to The Times of India�