The University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom has said it will be returning a Benin bronze sculpture to Nigeria many years after the British authorities stole it from Benin City.
The university made the disclosure in a statement released on Thursday.
The school also disclosed that it previously repatriated sacred items and ancestral remains to Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The bronze sculpture showing an Oba (king) of Benin was acquired by the University in 1957 at an auction, and it is believed to be a great example of Benin Late Period Art.
It was learnt that the University of Aberdeen initiated the move to return the stolen sculpture through Prof. Bankole Sodipo, Professor of Law in Babcock University, Nigeria with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments of Nigeria through its Legal Adviser, Babatunde Adebiyi; Edo State Government through the then Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Yinka Omorogbe; and Royal Court of the Oba of Benin through Prof. Gregory Akenzua in 2020.
The university, in a statement, said it now considers it to have been extremely immoral (for the British authorities to have stolen the artefact), and therefore took a proactive approach to identify the appropriate people to discuss what to do.
“It would not have been right to have retained an item of such great cultural importance that was acquired in such reprehensible circumstances,” it said.
“We, therefore, decided that an unconditional return is the most appropriate action we can take, and are grateful for the close collaboration with our partners.”