600-year-old Ife Terracotta Head Returned To Nigeria
The Nigerian government through the Minister of Information and culture, Lai Mahammed on Thursday November, 26 received formally, the 600-year old repatriated Ife terracotta head and other artifacts from the Kingdom of Netherlands.
Official handing over of the terracotta head was done in Abuja, the nations’ capital by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Geofrey Nyama in company of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Nigeria, Mr. Harry van Dijk.
Receiving the artifact in his office, Lai Mohammed said the return of the stolen Ife Terracotta marks a milestone in Nigeria’s efforts at pursuing the return of the country’s antiquities.
“It gives me profound joy to receive this very important antiquity, an Ife Terracotta…I am even more delighted that our efforts at pursuing the return of Nigerian antiquities, which we launched last November, have started yielding fruits.”
According to the minister, the Ife Terracotta was smuggled from Nigeria through Ghana to The Netherlands in 2019 with a forged document.
He said following the interception of the artifact by the Dutch Customs at Schiphol Airport in The Netherlands, Nigeria was invited to prove her case against the suspected smuggler, which the country did successfully, hence the return of the artifact.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, in his remark, applauded the Netherlands for the efficient and expeditious manner in which it deployed resources to identify, retrieve, and repatriate the terracotta to Nigeria.
Also speaking at the event, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Nigeria said the return of the artifact is a fitting gift to mark the 50th anniversary of the UNESCO Convention on the Prevention of Illicit Trafficking of Culture Heritage, of which Nigeria and The Netherlands are signatories.
Prof. Abba Isa-Tijjani, the Director-General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, has taken custody of the artifact for cleaning and treatment at the Conversation Laboratory before its eventual display to the public.