A private promoter of African Cultural legacy and African Arts better known as Legacy Restoration Trust, LRT, says it not interested in taking custody looted Benin artifacts when they are repatriated from Germany and other part of Europe and America.
Recall that LRT, got the approval of Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki to secure funds and support for the construction of Edo Museum for West African Arts, EMOWAA, before the sudden turn of events after the Benin monarch, His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewuare II, publicly denounced the group fortnight ago, alleging a third party interference.
A Trustee in the LRT and a visiting Fellow of Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, Mr. Enotie Ogbebor, disclosed on Sunday at Arise television breakfast programme, which was monitored by TheNewspad.com
But he stressed that it is responsibility is to work towards the return of looted artifacts and building a befitting place for the artifacts.
This was barely 24 hours after the Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed in Lagos State, spoke on the Nigerian government plans to take possession of about-to-be returned artifacts.
There has been a stalemate between the State government and Benin monarch over who takes possession of about-be-returned 1, 130 artworks, which were looted away by British invaders at the Oba of Benin palace in 1897.
Reflecting on the debate during his interview on Sunday July 18, 2021,
Mr. Ogbebor stressed that: “From what I know, the laws empower the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) to determine where arts and monuments are kept. It is in the purview of NCMM to decide monuments which are of national interest are kept.
“We are interested solely to support the effort to bring back the artifacts and to help in building a befitting place for it.
“The responsibility of where the artifacts will be kept is not the responsibility of Legacy Restoration Trust”, he said.
According to Ogbebor, “The Legacy Restoration Trust is not interested in who possesses them (artifacts) or who should keep them. What we are interested in is supporting the efforts to house them.
“The Bronzes and Artifacts are so important because they bear to our Civilization as Benin people out of the human wealth of heritage and Culture. These Artifacts comprises arts of Bronzes, Art of Brass, Art of wood, Art of Ivory and other materials. A lot of these Artifacts date back to 13th Century. They were made to keep history and memories as well as for decorative effects.
“Some others were made as items for traditional worships and religious alta, which served its utilitarian purpose. So, taking them away is like stripping us of our history and traditions as well as records from Centuries ago. Our stories always carry songs and a lot of things”, he said.
In the mean time, Benin Bronze Casters in Benin City, has denied a dissident group called Igbesamwan-Owina descendants Cultural Movement of Europe and America’, which it accused of acting as a decoy to derail the peaceful return of the looted artifacts from Benin.
During a peaceful rally on Tuesday in Benin City, Chief Kingsley Ineh, the Ine of Igun, maintained that the Bronze Assembly is solely attached to the Benin palace with total obedience to the wish of the Oba of Benin.
Ineh, President, Igun Bronze Casters Guild, demand arrest and prosecution of a dissident group, which had sponsored an Advertorial by some persons purporting to be from same Igun Bronze Casters Guild, yet demand a stake on behalf of (Igbesamwan-Owina Descendants Cultural Movement of Europe and America) from the soon-to-returned artifacts.
Two weeks ago, the Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki through the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Mr. Osarodion Ogie, said in a statement that he will continue to engage with the monarch to secure the final release of the artifacts.
But the Governor, barred his personal aides and other government officials from disrespectful exchanges and/or altercation with our revered Royal Majesty and the Benin Royal Palace in connection with the issue.
“The Government of Edo State and the Governor have always acted transparently and in consonance with existing Federal and State laws in all matters relating to the proposed return of the artefacts and monuments”, according to him.