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Sweden returns 39 Benin artefacts to Oba Ewuare II’s custody.

Benin City, Nigeria – In a significant move, the Swedish government has announced the return of 39 Benin artefacts currently housed in Swedish museums to the custody of Oba Ewuare II, the traditional ruler of Benin. This decision aligns with the Nigerian Federal Government’s directive as detailed in Gazette No. 57, Volume 110, issued on March 23, 2023, which recognized the Oba of Benin as the rightful custodian of these artefacts.

The announcement was made by the Swedish Ambassador to Nigeria, Annika Hahn-Englund, during a courtesy visit to the Oba’s palace in Benin City, Edo State. The ambassador highlighted the strong trade relationship between Sweden and Nigeria, noting that both countries cooperate in various sectors, including infrastructure, telecommunications, and energy.

Ambassador Hahn-Englund stated, “With the cooperation we have in culture and education with Nigeria, we have decided to return 39 artefacts to the Benin Kingdom. Your Majesty, I am honored to be here tonight.”

Oba Ewuare II expressed his deep gratitude to the Swedish government for their decision, recalling his initial request for the return of the Benin Bronzes during his visit to Sweden as Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Scandinavian countries in 1998. He also acknowledged the ongoing support for the Benin Royal Museum project, which is backed by the federal government.

The Oba commended the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) for their role in preserving Nigeria’s cultural heritage and shared his experiences as an ambassador, highlighting the enduring relationship with Sweden’s monarch, King Carl XVI Gustaf.

Oba Ewuare II noted, “The demand for the return of looted Benin artefacts has been ongoing since the reign of Oba Akenzua II. It has been my long-standing request, and I am grateful that it has been approved. God’s time is always the best.”

To mark the historic visit, Ambassador Hahn-Englund, accompanied by her husband and a member of the Diplomatic Mission, presented a souvenir to the Oba. In return, Oba Ewuare II gifted the ambassador a copy of the federal government’s Gazette detailing the custody of Benin artefacts, symbolizing the deep cultural and diplomatic ties between the two nations.

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