German Minister of State for Culture, Monika Grutters has disclosed that 1,130 artifacts would be returned to Nigeria from the beginning of 2022.
Grutters said this on Wednesday during a meeting with the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed in Berlin, Germany.
This was contained in a statement issued on Thursday by the Special Assistant to the Minister of Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi.
Mohammed at the meeting earlier demanded a full and unconditional return of the 1,130 Benin Bronzes that were looted from the African nation in the 19th century and domiciled in German museums.
Grutters at the meeting said “the way we deal with the issue of Benin Bronzes is important to addressing our colonial past.”
She assured that the artifacts “would be returned to Nigeria from the beginning of 2022”.
Gutters noted that the fact that Germany has twice sent delegations to Nigeria for talks over the planned repatriation is an indication that both sides have moved beyond mere talks, saying all the Museums in Germany that are holding Benin Bronzes have agreed to cooperate.
Mohammed, later at a meeting with the German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, said there should be ”absolutely no conditions attached” to the return of the artefacts, which he described as an idea whose time has come.
He said the ongoing discussion between Nigeria and Germany on the return of the art works is not just the end of an era but the beginning of a new vista of stronger relations, pivoted by cultural diplomacy, between both countries.
Alhaji Mohammed thanked the Government of Germany for taking the lead in the global efforts to repatriate all artefacts that were looted from Nigeria and indeed from the African continent.
The Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who is also a member of the Nigerian delegation, said a ”transformational” museum is being built in Benin city to house the artefacts upon their return, as part of a new cultural district in the city.