The Federal government has requested the return of 32 artifacts belonging to Nigeria from the United States of America's Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Yusuf Abdallah Usman, the director-general of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, disclosed that the said artifacts, which include 28 bronze pieces and six ivory sculptures, were looted by a British expedition in 1897 as spoils of war after the Benin Massacre of 1897.
"Without mincing words, these artworks are heirlooms of the great people of the Benin Kingdom and Nigeria generally," he said.
"They form part of the history of the people. The gap created by this senseless exploitation is causing our people untold anguish, discomfort and disillusionment."
He added that it is very saddening that the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston's claim to be the new beneficiary of these works, indicates that the donation met all legal standards.
"One wonders what they mean by this. Are they working out of the UNESCO Conventions and other standard setting instruments?"