A STATEMENT FROM BENIN ARTEFACTS REPATRIATION CAMPAIGN ORGANISATION
(B.A.R.C.O.) E.V., HAMBURG, GERMANY 13.07.2021
13 July 2021
On the issue of the repatriation of the Benin artefacts that has been in the news recently. B.A.R.C.O. e.V. would like to use this opportunity to release their first official press statement.
If you have been following our campaign over the last 3 years, you will be aware of our constant struggle for the unconditional repatriation of the Benin artefacts, stolen in 1897, now found in museums and collections all over the world.
To the glory of God, some countries, museums, and collections have agreed to repatriate some artefacts back to Benin City. We guess you are also aware of the issues concerning their custody in Benin City, Nigeria.
According to our traditions and customs his Royal Majesty, Oba of Benin, has full custody of all Edo citizens and their properties. What belong to an Edo citizen belongs to the Oba according to our heritage. With this practice, the issue of who has the custody of the Benin Artefacts on their return, is culturally and traditionally settled. We, B.A.R.C.O., do not expect our Edo sons and daughters to challenge this traditional law that has existed for centuries.
As Edo people it is our cultural and moral responsibility to kneel before the Oba of Benin, as our traditional and cultural leader. This has been practiced for generations and will be practiced for generations to come. There shall be no end to this traditional practice as long as the moon and sun continue to shine from the sky. No son or daughter of Edo is bigger than Benin Kingdom and our Holy Monarch (Oba yan Edo) traditionally owns Benin City, this is a fact that cannot be challenge by any son or daughter from the Kingdom.
Oba ghator okpere, isee.
While we appreciate the effort of our son, His Excellency Governor Nogheghase Obaseki, of Edo State joining the struggle for the unconditional repatriation of all the looted Benin Artefacts. B.A.R.C.O. also urge the Governor to respect the centuries old traditional law which stated very clearly that the Oba of Benin, His Royal Majesty should take full custody of all the artefacts when returned.
On the issue of the third-party group, the Legacy Restoration Trust, which is the main topic of controversy. LRT is a group that is based in Lagos, run by Mr Phillip Ihenacho. According to their website “LRT will be responsible for managing EMOWAA after the museum is completed”. According to the information provided at the launch of EMOWAA, (Edo Museum of West African Art), “This is a collaborative effort of the Royal Palace, NCMM, Edo State Government, local artists and communities, and International Institutions, working with and through an independent trust, Legacy Restoration Trust”. B.A.R.C.O. expects the Edo State Government and Governor Obaseki to remove this group from the whole process. As the Royal Palace has already rejected their involvement, we implore Governor Obaseki to do the same.
For B.A.R.C.O. and many Edo Citizens we urge our able leader, His Excellency.
Governor Nogheghase Obaseki to go to our Royal Father and settle this issue
amicably. The Governor is our political leader while The Oba of Benin remains our traditional and cultural Father. On this note, it is not usual for the Governor of Edo State, an Edo son, to go to the Royal Palace to discuss these discrepancies.
B.A.R.C.O. encourages him to do so with due respect and dignity.
We commend the effort of our Edo citizens worldwide for speaking out in one voice on an issue like this, that concerns our Kingdom. We also appeal to everyone to pursue peace and harmony in our dear Kingdom. We appeal for calm and not to allow our emotions to destroy the image of Benin Kingdom and Edo citizens worldwide.
We should also remember that the success of the Royal Palace and the Edo State Government has a direct influence on our state and our people. So, therefore, B.A.R.C.O. advises that we handle this internal issue with wisdom and respect.
"Agha gbudian agheghe, ama ghedian agvegbe"
We should not allow a mere misunderstanding between father and son to escalate.
A peaceful resolution should remain our ultimate goal.
May God bless B.A.R.C.O.
May God bless all Edo citizens and friends of Edo all over the world.
May God bless Edo State and our Governor.
May God bless our king, His Royal Majesty, the Oba of Benin, Uku akpolokpolor, Oba N`oyan Edo.
Oba ghator kpere, Isee....