Nigeria have finally taken delivery of a 600 years-old artefact believed to have been smuggled out of the South West city of Ile-Ife through Ghana from the Netherlands.
Receiving the terracotta head from the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Nigeria, Harry van Dijk, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed said “The smuggler had obtained forged documents” to take the ‘priceless’ artefact out of the country.
Harry van Dijk said Dutch customs intercepted the artefact at Amsterdam airport and “alerted the Information and Heritage Inspectorate of the Netherlands to give an opinion, officials then contacted their Nigerian counterparts, leading to the return.
Hundreds of Nigerian artefacts, including Benin bronzes that were stolen during the pre-colonial and colonial period, are in museums in Europe and the United States.
Mohammed said Nigeria would continue to seek their return.