By Nneka Nwogwugwu
The Federal Government of Nigeria has received priceless artifacts intercepted in Mexico City, Mexico.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, received the artifacts in Abuja on Thursday.
While receiving the artifact from the Charge de Affaires of the Nigerian Mission in Mexico, Dr. Yakubu Dadu, Onyeama stated that the government remains unswerving in ensuring that the cultural artifacts stolen from the country and scattered in different parts of world are recovered and returned.
It has been confirmed to be an ancient sculpture that originated from Ife, Osun State, South-West Nigeria.
The recovered sculpture is of a man sitting cross-legged, wearing a headgear and holding an object.
According to Onyeama in a statement, the process of recovering the valuable cultural possession commenced in 2017, when the former Nigerian Ambassador of Nigeria to Mexico, Ambassador Aminu Alhaji Iyawa, incidentally saw a bronze head suspected to be of Nigerian origin at the Benito Juarez International Airport, in Mexico City.
The statement added, “Upon further enquiries and with the collaboration of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture and relevant Mexican focal institutions, it was established that the bronze head originated from Nigeria.
“Following concerted efforts of the Mission together with the joint efforts of the customs of Mexico and the United States, the bronze head was impounded and handed over to the Nigerian Mission by the Deputy Foreign Minister of Mexico, Ambassador Julian Ventura, in a historic ceremony, on 25th February 2020.
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“Beyond the national value to Nigeria, the bronze figure is an objects of iconic cultural, traditional and religious importance to the Yoruba people, as well as a critical part of their history and heritage resources.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urges all well meaning Nigerians and friends of Nigeria to notify relevant agencies of artifacts suspected to be of Nigerian origin where they find any such, as the present government is willing to engage and return such priceless assets.”