Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, has inquired the Prince of Wales, Charles George, to support the clamour for the return of ancient Benin artefacts which were taken to the United Kingdom in 1897 by the British authorities.
He stated that the return of the artefacts would enable him to establish Oba Palace Museum for the promotion of tourism in Benin City, Edo State.
The revered monarch made the request in a statement he delivered during a closed-door meeting with the heir to the British royal throne at the UK High Commissioner’s residence in Maitama, Abuja, on Tuesday.
Other traditional rulers present at the meeting included the Ooni of Ife, Enitan Ogunwusi; Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe; Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar; Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, and among others.
The Benin monarch traced the relationship between the Benin kingdom and the British Empire and extolled the robust collaboration between the two kingdoms over time.
Oba Ewuare said, “Suffice to say that Nigerians in general and Benin people in particular will be most delighted to have your royal highness throw his royal weight behind our efforts to have some of our ancient artefacts that were taken in 1897 from the Royal Court of Benin returned to Benin to establish Oba Palace Museum for the promotion of tourism in Benin City, Edo State.”
The Monarch told journalists after the meeting that the meeting deliberated on security and development issues in the country, action against human trafficking, including girl child education, illegal migration among others.
The Emir of Kano said the meeting also discussed climate change, immigration, population control, demographic explosion, and their consequences.
“The population of Nigeria today, is four, five times what it was in 1960, we are moving from 45 million to about 200m; we are not looking at the level of desertification, the erosion in Niger Delta, the loss of the reserve in Chad Basin. Basically, there is population explosion and you got diminishing resources.” He said.
In spite of the population explosion in the country, Sanusi detailed that Nigerians had not changed the way they built houses, adding that everyone wanted a plot of land, noting that this had forced the government to convert farmlands to residential areas.