Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki says he will continue to make effort to secure a private audience with the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, over the return of some stolen artefacts.
The governor also ordered his aides and people in the state not to engage in “disrespectful exchanges and/or altercation” with the revered Royal Majesty and the Benin Royal Palace.
While hundreds of artefacts looted from the Bini Kingdom in 1897 are set to be returned from Germany, the Oba had alleged that some unscrupulous people were moving to hand over the artefacts to unauthorised private entities or third parties which would be resisted.
Addressing a press conference on Friday, Oba Ewuare II said he had agreed with the governor to house the artefacts in a palace museum and that the controversy around it was absolutely unnecessary.
He said: “I had a discussion with the governor about the need to return them to the palace. If he is here, I will ask him if that was not what we agreed upon. The international community must also know this.
“I will ask for prayer for the governor because it seems there are some unscrupulous people behind this arrangement, who might be doing it for financial gain.”
The governor in a statement issued on Monday by Osarodion Ogie, secretary to the Edo state government, “The actions of the government thus far on this issue have been driven by selfless, patriotic considerations and in the best interest of Edo State and Edo people.”
“The Governor of Edo State, His Excellency, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has displayed and will continue to display immense respect for our traditional institutions and therefore will continue to make effort to secure a private audience with His Royal Majesty to discuss his concerns,” he said.
“The Governor has consequently ordered that on no account should anyone, whether in government or acting independently, engage in disrespectful exchanges and/or altercation with our revered Royal Majesty and the Benin Royal Palace.
“Governor Obaseki, meanwhile, expresses his gratitude to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) and Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and other officials of the federal government for their patriotic and tireless efforts that have brought us to the verge of this eagerly anticipated achievement which has remained elusive for over a century.
“While thanking and congratulating the Federal Government, the President, the Minister, the Royal Palace of the Oba of Benin and all stakeholders who have contributed to the successes so far recorded in this endeavour, the Governor assures that he will continue to work assiduously with all local and international stakeholders for the eventual and final return of these valued records of our great and glorious heritage back to Benin City for the benefit of ALL Edo people, Nigerians and the black race.”
By Abel Ejikeme