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Artist wants Nigerian Customs to desist from seizures of artworks at airports

Mrs. Aisha Buhari; Hanan Buhari (middle) and the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at Hanan Buhari's photo exhibition

Mr Taiwo Opeolu, a Visual Artist on Wednesday urged the Nigerian Custom Service, to ensure adequate training of its officials at airports to differentiate between handmade art works and antiquities.

Opeolu said in Lagos that this was due to observation overtime that international tourists, who buy made in Nigeria art pieces to be exported to foreign countries usually had those items seized at the airport.

The artist noted that most of the officials confuse handmade art works with antiquities due to ignorance.

He suggested that these officials should be trained and enlightened on differences between antiquities and art pieces.

According to him, antiquities are objects or works of art from ancient past, which requires export permit from the National Commission of Museums and Monuments (NCMM), to be exported to other countries.

“NCMM is the custodian of antiquities, monoliths, artifacts of ancient time, so an export permit would be taken for such works to be taken outside the country.’

’For sculptures, paintings, crafts, no permit is required, they can be taken out at will and such should not be confused with antiquities.

”We beckon on the Nigerian Customs Service to wade into this and not deny art lovers the possession of their precious art properties due to ignorance,” he said.

He said this act would continue to jeopardise the growth of the Nigerian art industry, as many people had recorded same bad experiences like him.