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In Edo, group prepares for return of stolen artifacts



A BODY of persons comprising the representatives the Royal family of Benin kingdom, the representatives of the Edo State Government and owners of museum across Europe have come together under one umbrella as Benin Dialogue Group (BDG).

The Dialogue is negotiating tool, with the intent of returning all the Benin artifacts carted away to Europe during the colonial era. And when eventually returned, they are expected to form the envisaged Benin Royal Museum which the State government is collaborating to build.

A dinner party was hosted in Benin in honour of the group, in which building a museum that will conserve the artifacts when returned and make the state a destination of choice for tourists from across the globe was muted.

The guests savoured the rich Edo culture in music and dance drama spiced up with delicious meals and wines in the serene Government House environment.

The Director, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Edith Ekunke, expressed appreciation to the State government for the efforts by his administration to reposition arts and culture in line with international best practices.

In a short remarks by the representative of the State governor, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu-the Deputy governor, expressed his optimism at the prospect of the return of the stolen rich artifacts.

He told the Dialogue Team of Government’s strong desire to receive and keep these priceless artifacts in the expected Royal   Museum to be set up in Benin City, adding that Government was ready to collaborate with the team in its efforts at bringing this project to reality.

Moreover, he informed on how government was open to learn from the British experience on turning these artifacts to means of earning revenue and attracting foreign tourists.

Speaking from the Legal perspective, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof Yinka Omorogbe stated that an agreement has been reached with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments to exhibit these artifacts in a new museum in Benin City.

Giving a rundown of the history, she said the Benin Dialogue Group was formed in 2010 as a conversation platform between the state government and the Diasporas where the lost Benin artifacts were housed.

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