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Group warns Obaseki over returned artefacts

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A Benin pressure group, Coalition of Benin Socio-cultural Organisations on Saturday, accused the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki of threatening the peace in the Benin Kingdom with his plan to house the returned artefacts in a proposed Edo Museum of West African Arts.

The group explained the expectation was that the artefacts would be kept in the Benin Royal Museum, to be built by the monarch and supported by the state government.

They said Obaseki’s action showed that he bore a grudge with the palace, contrary to his earlier claim that he had no issues with it.

Obaseki, on Thursday, while addressing participants at a stakeholders’ engagement and unveiling of Phase one of EMOWAA in Benin City, said there was no dispute between the state government and the Palace on the issue of artefacts.

However, at a press conference, the Coordinator General of the group, Mr Osazee Amas- Edobor, said the artefacts belonged to the palace, and that it was the rightful place for the works to be kept.

He said: “During the 1897 invasion, the entire Benin people defended that palace, and once again the entire Edo race is ready to defend what concerns that palace, and anything contrary to the Benin Royal Museum is tantamount to trying to re-loot the looted artefacts, and that will not be allowed.

“We also would like to inquire from His Excellency, why you reneged on your earlier promise regarding the Benin Royal Museum in 2018 when you supported the idea of a Benin Royal Museum before the EMOWAA idea came from the blues,” he added.

Reacting to the development, the Custodian of the Institute of Benin Studies, Peter Obobaifo, reacted said, “Did the governor say that the Benin Royal Museum will be stopped in favour of EMOWAA, I am not sure the governor said that.

“There is nothing that can stop the erection of the Benin Royal Museum. The government has no power to stop the Benin Royal Museum project. The Oba’s position is permanent. Any governor that comes has a time limit, but the Benin Royal Museum is going to be permanent as far as the monarchy remains, which means forever. There shouldn’t be any dispute between the two so the artefacts rightly belong to the Oba of Benin and whichever location or museum he chooses to house them is his prerogative.”


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