By Peterson Ibi/Benin
The Great Benin Descendants worldwide (GBD), a socio-cultural group, has stated its opposition to plans by either of the Federal Government to Edo State Government to receive the stolen Benin artifacts, saying neither have any right to them.
Coordinator of the group, Imasuen Amowie Izoduwa stated on Saturday in Benin, while explaining the group’s position on the stolen artifacts and other sundry issues as they relate to the history of Benin Kingdom.
He noted that the Federal Government cannot lay claim to the artifacts because they were taken away from the Benin years before the almagamention of the country in 1914.
He further pointed that whatever laws being quoted by the Federal Government with the intention of laying claim to the artifacts is not binding on the artifacts.
“What GDB is saying is very clear. We are historical group…We don’t talk based on emotions, we don’t talk based on sentiments, we talk based on truth.
“Some of us are well vast, schooled in our history. So we know that all those artifacts were stolen not from Nigeria, not from Edo State, but were stolen from the Benin Kingdom.
“They were stolen 17 years before a geographical location called Nigeria was formed.
“So, the edict of the law is not binding on those artifacts in as far as the palace where those artifacts were stolen is still existing till date.
“So, the Oba of Benin is the custodian of the traditions and the heritage of the Edo people.
“The voice of Edo people is very clear basically, not based on sentiments,” he said.
While admitting that the Oba of Benin needs the support of the State Government to build a world-class museum to house the yet to be repatriated artifacts, the Federal and the State Governments must first acknowledge that the items are properties of the Benin Monarch, from who’s palace they were carted away.
The group therefore appealed to the Federal Government not to yield to any pressure from anyone to hand over the yet to be repatriated Benin artifacts to the Edo State Government for safe keep.
“On no account we will allow the Edo State Government be handed over those artifacts.
“What we are saying is that, first, there supposed to be a dialogue on what the collaboration between any of these whether federal or state government, first, the palace of the Benin Kingdom has to be acknowledged.
“Obviously, the palace will need the State Government to build a world-class museum, no doubt about that, but one thing that we first of all agree, is that the palace owns those artifacts and after that is done, there can now be a round table discussion between the owner and the State Government on how they can build museum and make it economically viable for the entire good of Edo people.
“So, the collaboration is after the property must have been handled over to the owner (Oba of Benin). That is our stand as a group,” the group said.