The Federal Government says the full return of the 1,130 stolen Benin Bronzes from Germany should be completed by August 2022.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed proposed the one-year time limit during a round-table with German Museum Directors and government officials in Berlin, Germany.
A statement on the round-table was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday by Mr Segun Adeyemi, Special Assistant to the President (Media) in the Office of the Minister.
As contained in the statement, the minister is leading a Nigerian government delegation for high-level talks with German government officials on the repatriation of the artifacts.
Mohammed said Germany had agreed to repatriate the antiquities which were looted from the Bini Kingdom in 1897, and the agreement for the return must be signed by December 2021.
“For us, the most important issue in the road map is the signing of the agreement and the date of return.
“We won’t move forward if we don’t have a clear date on signing and return, and full return should be completed in a year’s time, not beyond August 2022,” he told participants at the round-table.
Mohammed said Nigerians were eagerly awaiting the return of the 1,130 Benin bronzes, which were being held by various museums in Germany.
He said the German Federal Government was coordinating the return of the Benin bronzes, mostly held by state and private museums.
He noted that of the 6,600 museums in Germany, less than five per cent are owned by the Federal Government.
Speaking at the roundtable, the Secretary of State in the German President’s office, Mr Stephen Steinlein, said the President was happy with the progress made so far on the planned repatriation of the artifacts.
He described the planned return of the artifacts as ”a lighthouse project” and assured that the President would continue to follow the process keenly.