A stolen artifact that was intercepted in Mexico City, Mexico has been recovered by the Nigerian Government on Thursday.
The artifact has been confirmed to be an ancient sculpture that originated from Ife, Osun State, South-West Nigeria.
The artifact was returned to the country by the Charge de Affaires of the Nigerian Mission in Mexico, Yakubu Dadu, and was received by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.
In a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday, Onyeama narrated how the federal government recovered the artifact in Mexico.
The statement quoted the minister as saying that the process of recovering the artifact started 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 reads: “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 February 2020.”
“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.”
According to the minister, the government will ensure that the cultural artifacts stolen from the country and scattered in different parts of the world are recovered and returned.