The Federal Government has taken receipt of stolen artefact belonging to Nigeria and intercepted in Mexico City, Mexico, saying the development would further spur other nations into returning cultural artefact in their domain.
It explained that the feat was a result of the government’s commitment towards exploring diplomatic and institutional channels in retrieving stolen priceless artefacts belonging to the country.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said that though the artefact was received on Thursday, the country had begun the process of retrieving the cultural edifice since 2017.
Speaking while receiving the artefact from the Chargé d’Affaires of the Nigerian Mission in Mexico, Dr. Yakubu Dadu, the minister stated that the government remains unswerving in ensuring that the cultural artefacts stolen from the country and scattered in different parts of the world are recovered and returned.
“The recovered sculpture is of a man sitting cross-legged, wearing headgear and holding an object. It has been confirmed to be an ancient sculpture that originated from Ife, Osun State, South-West Nigeria,” Onyeama was quoted to have said in a statement on Thursday.
According to the minister, 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 25th February 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.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urges all well-meaning Nigerians and friends of Nigeria 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,” the statement said.