The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, has announced Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, as a member of the board of trustees of the Benin Royal Museum, where the returned artefacts would be kept and be opened to the public including researchers and scientists.
Other prominent Nigerians on the board are Aghatise Erediauwa, Nduka Obaigbena, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede and Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru.
The monarch made the announcement during a colourful documentation ceremony ahead of the formal hand over of two artefacts, a cockerel (okpa) and Uhunwun Elao from the United Kingdom.
The Benin monarch and those involved in the process of the return of the artworks looted from Benin during the 1897 invasion of the empire, signed the necessary documents in line with the British laws regarding return of artefacts and the objects would at a later day be handed over to the Monarch.
The Oba, while commending the role played by the federal government in the return of the artifacts, said Benin art and culture reflect the past and present glory as well as splendour of the kingdom.
“As our treasures are returned, our youths will be able to establish a new relationship with the heritage bequeathed by their forefathers. The return of all the treasures taken away will begin a new era of Benin history and civilisation.
“International best practice and the rule of law dictate that restitution and compensation is the new discourse.
“We ask that friendly countries seeking to return our artifacts should do so directly to the Oba of Benin or to the federal government of Nigeria who will hold them in trust and return the same to the Palace of the Oba of Benin Kingdom as was recently done in Cambridge and Aberdeen”, Oba Ewuare II, added.