The Kingdom of Netherlands on Thursday officially presented a smuggled Ife Terracotta antiquity dated to be at least 600 years old to Nigeria.
The repatriated antiquity was presented to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed at a ceremony held in Abuja.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, Netherlands Ambassador to Nigeria, Harry Van Dijk, Nigeria Charge de Affairs to Netherlands, Kabiru Musa and the Director-General National Commission for Museum and Monuments (NCMM) were present at the event.
Receiving the repatriated object, the minister said it was smuggled through the airport in Ghana before getting to Europe in 2019.
“The smuggler had obtained forged documents purported to be from a former Director-General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments.
“The smuggler ultimately passed through the airport in Ghana before getting to Europe in 2019.
“The Dutch Customs at Schiphol Airport suspected that the object might be illicitly imported and alerted the antiquity protection office known as the Inspectie, which is the Information and Heritage Inspectorate of the Netherlands, to give an opinion.
The minister reiterated Nigeria commitment to joint international efforts to put a stop to illicit export and import of cultural goods.
He said Netherland and Nigeria will make a joint presentation on the repatriation to the UNESCO Secretariat in Paris, so that other nations might take a cue from it in finding rapprochement and common ground concerning the issue of return of antiquities.
On his part, Onyema said it is a happy day for Nigeria because there are many Nigerian cultural assets around the world which have become difficult to track.
He said some of the assets were taken out of the country for over 100 years back and some more recently.