My Government Will Not Engage In Disrespectful Exchanges With Oba of Benin Over Returned Artefacts – Gov Obaseki
Godwin Obaseki, the governor of Edo state, has stated that he and his aides will not participate in any “disrespectful exchanges” with Oba Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin, over the stolen items that have been restored.
The Oba of Benin held a news conference last Friday, insisting that the stolen antiques, which were reportedly looted during the 1897 invasion of the Benin Kingdom and are currently being repatriated from Germany, must be given to the royal palace, as they were carried away from there. The palace has been at odds with the state government, which believes the antiques should be conserved in the projected Edo Museum of West African Arts, which would be sponsored and run by a private business called Legacy Restoration Trust Ltd.
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However, the governor said in a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Administration, Osarodion Ogie, that the state government will continue to work with the monarch on a solution. The statement runs as follows:
“The attention of the Edo State Government (EDSG) has been drawn to the widely publicized media statement issued by the Palace of His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II.
It is concerning that the statement appears to have created the impression that there is a major conflict between the interests of the EDSG and His Royal Majesty with regards to the laudable national milestone of having our highly valued artefacts returned home to Nigeria.
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.
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.
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 endeavor, 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.”