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Nigeria calls for return of Benin bronzes after thefts from British Museum | World Information

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Nigerian and Greek officers have demanded the return of treasures after hundreds of things have been stolen from the British Museum.

Greater than 900 Benin Bronze items and the Parthenon Marbles – often known as Elgin Marbles – are actually the centre of renewed requires repatriation amid accusations the British Museum’s security cannot be trusted.

“It is surprising to listen to that the international locations and museums which have been telling us that the Benin Bronzes wouldn’t be safe in Nigeria, have thefts occurring there,” mentioned Abba Isa Tijani, Director of Nigeria’s Nationwide Fee for Museums and Monuments, talking to Sky Information.

The artefacts, which date again so far as the sixteenth century, have been faraway from Benin Metropolis after British forces invaded the Kingdom in modern-day Nigeria in 1897.

“They’re the topic of loot. They have been illegally taken overseas,” Mr Tijani mentioned, earlier than demanding the British Museum palms again the treasures.

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“It’s irrespective whether or not they’re secure there. That isn’t a difficulty. The problem is that these are stolen artefacts, and they need to be returned to Nigeria to the communities that they belong to.”

Mr Tijani mentioned the nation’s newly appointed minister of Arts, Tradition and Inventive Financial system, Hannatu Musawa, will write to the British Museum and the British authorities inside weeks to demand the fast repatriation of the Benin Bronzes.

Learn extra: British Museum was warned about thefts years ago, claims gems expert

Artefacts bought on eBay

The decision is echoed by Greek archaeologists who instructed Sky Information they too are revamping efforts to have treasures returned.

The Parthenon Marbles, on show on the British Museum for the reason that nineteenth Century, have been the centre of a longstanding worldwide dispute.

Despina Koutsoumba, head of the Greek Affiliation of Archaeologists, mentioned there may be shock amongst colleagues now at how objects will be stolen from such a famend establishment.

“We learn that these artefacts have been bought on eBay. That is new, artefacts from museums being sold on eBay.

“What we’re additionally nervous about is that the British Museum knew (in regards to the thefts) since 2021, and did not announce what they did. What are the procedures?”

‘They’re making an attempt to shoot the messenger’

The British Museum says it performed a direct investigation after concerns were raised in 2021. In a press release Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum, mentioned: “Issues have been solely raised a couple of small variety of objects, and our investigation concluded that these objects have been all accounted for.

“We now have purpose to imagine that the person who raised considerations had many extra objects in his possession, and it is irritating that that was not revealed to us as it could have aided our investigations.”

However the whistleblower, antiques seller Ittai Gradel, mentioned his considerations have been ignored.

“I instructed them in regards to the few objects the place I had absolute proof that they got here from the British Museum. I mentioned, ‘I’ve all the knowledge you’ll require me, all the help, I am solely at your disposal’. They by no means contacted and now they’re making an attempt to shoot the messenger,” he mentioned.

The museum says it known as the police after an audit final 12 months revealed an even bigger downside. Treasures courting again 3,400 years have gone lacking, and the thefts are thought to have taken place over a number of years.

Museum investigations led to a disciplinary course of after which a member of workers was sacked. No arrests have been made.

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Museum curator sacked over lacking treasures

‘Blatantly opportunistic’

Tim Loughton, chair of the British Museum All-Social gathering Parliamentary Group says focus must be on getting the lacking objects again.

“The Greek authorities and others are being somewhat blatantly opportunistic and, somewhat than being useful and saying, ‘Proper, what can we do amongst the archaeological world to assist the British Museum retrieve these objects’, they’re developing with claims about ‘Oh nicely that simply exhibits that the Elgin Marbles are usually not secure within the British Museum’. It is full nonsense,” he mentioned.

The British Museum’s assortment has grown because it was based in 1753. Objects have been acquired in quite a lot of methods and plenty of are actually topic to questions on, or requests for, return to different international locations, together with the Maqdala Assortment to Ethiopia, the Rosetta Stone to Egypt and two giant stone moai from Rapa Nui (Easter Island).

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