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Sweden to return 39 Benin artefacts

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The Swedish government has said it will return 39 pieces of Benin artefacts in its museum to the custody of Oba of Benin, Ewuare II.

The Swedish Ambassador to Nigeria, Annika Hahn-Englund, on Tuesday night conveyed the Swedish government’s decision when she paid a courtesy visit to the Oba in his palace in Benin, Edo State.

Hahn-Englund also said that the trade between Nigeria and Sweden is the second-largest market in sub-saharan Africa.

She noted that the trade partnerships are in areas of infrastructure, telecommunication, energy and other businesses that significantly support the economies of both countries.

She said, “I would like to convey the decision of the Swedish government to return 39 artefacts to the Benin Kingdom. This is possible because of the cooperation between the two countries in the area culture, education and trade.

“So, your Majesty, I am very honoured to be here tonight,” Hahn-Englund said while paying respect to Oba Ewuare II.

Responding, the Oba, on behalf of the Edo people, also welcomed the decision and expressed gratitude to the Swedish government.

The Benin monarch recalled how he made a request through the Swedish monarch, His Royal Majesty, Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus, in 1998 in Sweden during his courtesy visit to him as Nigeria’s ambassador to Scandinavian countries.

The Oba said that the Federal Government-backed Benin Royal Museum project is still on course, and commended partners for their support and devotion towards the project.

The Oba also commended the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, which is an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria, responsible for the preservation, promotion, and development of Nigeria’s cultural heritage.

The traditional ruler who prayed for members of the diplomatic mission noted that the remarkable reign and enduring affection of the Swedish monarch, remain indelible.

The Oba added: “The demand for the return of looted Benin artefacts has been on since the reign of Oba Akenzua II. I am elated to hear that the return of the artefacts has been approved by the Swedish government. This has been my request for a long time. God’s time is always the best”.

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