Stolen Ile-Ife Artifact Recovered From Mexico
On Thursday, April 8, Foreign Affairs Minister Chief Geoffrey Onyeam announced that a stolen Ile-Ife artifact was recovered from Mexico.
Laying hands on the artifact, he demanded a strict and secure border to prevent future theft happenings. The artifact was presented by Dr. Yakubu Dadu, Charge d’Affaires of the Nigerian Mission in Mexico.
Onyeama lauded the Embassy and the government of Mexico for ensuring a smooth cooperation in returning the artifact to its due home.
The Minister lauded Nigerian Envoys who intercepted that the stolen possessions of the country. He called on the consciousness of Custom officials adding that they the country needs to secure the national artifacts from being carted away.
“This Ife bronze was stolen from Nigeria and it was intercepted in Mexico and our Ambassador at the time, Amb. Aminu Iyawa, was very dynamic when he noticed it displayed at the Airport in Mexico and was a little bit suspicious.
“Due to his enterprise, detective work and his diplomatic skills, after a year he was able to find out the origin of the work and the fact that it was stolen and he engaged with Mexican authorities.
“And was able to get the Mexican authorities after proving that it was of Nigerian origin to hand it over to the Nigerian people.
“It was initially to be delivered home last year but because of the COVID-19 lock down he was not able to do so. This is all part of the excellent works that our diplomatic missions abroad are performing.
“Sometimes on social media we have negative narratives about our diplomatic missions but I think it is also important to recognise the important works they are doing as envoys of Mr President.
“Delivering such things back to the country requires a lot of negotiations, a lot of time to achieve these kind of results.
“There also need to be sensitisation of Custom officials to let them know there is a black market in these artifacts so as to have border measures.
“We do not want to be negotiating when they are outside our territory but what we can also do is to secure them from within and ultimately it is going to be about intelligence and Customs and border measures,”
He added that the artifact will be handed over to the National Commission for Museums and Monuments after an official presentation of it to the Minister of Information and Culture in the presence of the Ambassador of Mexico to Nigeria.
“There are lots of measures in place to end theft of artifacts. There are countries to countries agreements.
“Recently there was an ECOWAS Head of Cultural Directors Ministries which papers were presented by ECOWAS countries to restitute some of these our properties from any country that they are found.
“If you find that of Nigeria in Côte d’Ivoire they bring it and if you find theirs here we return it to them,” Muhammed said.
Mr Babatunde Adebiyi, the Legal Adviser, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, said plans more secured museums at global standards are set to be built.
“Museum as an Institution has evolved in Nigeria and are better secured now and I can vouch that hardly can anybody steal objects from Nigerian Museums.
“We are making arrangements to build a Museum in the standard of the Western World like the one we are making efforts with the Edo State government to build and even some foreign governments,” Adebiyi said.