Geoffrey Onyeama, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Harry van Dijk
A 600-year-old Ife Terracotta which was smuggled out of the country in 2019 has been recovered by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Terracotta was formally received by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, from his Foreign Affairs counterpart, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, in the company of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Nigeria, Mr. Harry van Dijk.
While receiving the artefact in his office in Abuja on Thursday, Alhaji Mohammed said the return of the stolen Ife Terracotta marks a milestone in Nigeria’s efforts at pursuing the return of the country’s antiquities.
“It gives me profound joy to receive this very important antiquity, an Ife Terracotta, which is dated to be at least 600 years old. I am even more delighted that our efforts at pursuing the return of Nigerian antiquities, which we launched last November, have started yielding fruits,” he said.
The Minister of Information and Culture said the government’s resolve to seek the repatriation of the nation’s timeless and priceless artefacts was strengthened by President Muhammadu Buhari’s marching order for Nigeria to tap into tourism and other fields, where Nigeria has comparative advantages, in order to generate income for the nation and secure jobs for our youths.
“One way of generating income for the country is if our cultural properties are exhibited around the world to a fee-paying audience, on the basis of the proper agreement that acknowledges us as owners and confers the right benefits on us. But this is not possible for as long as most of them adorn the museums and private collections of others, who describe them as their properties,” he said.