Mexico returns stolen Ile-Ife Artifact to Nigerian Government

Mexico finally returns the stolen Ile-Ife Artifact to the Nigerian Government on Thursday the 8th of April 2021.

Geoffrey Onyeama, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Thursday received a stolen Ile-Ife artifact recovered from Mexico in Abuja.

Having received the artifact, he called for a more secured border to prevent theft again in the future.

Mr. Onyeama received the artifact from Dr. Yakubu Dadu, Charge d’Affaires of the Nigerian Mission in Mexico.

The minister commended the Embassy’s efforts in retrieving the stolen artifact.

He said that the involvement of Nigerian representatives in recovering stolen possessions of the country shows the important job they were doing as opposed to negative reports of Nigerian missions on social media.

Mr. Onyeama also acknowledged the government of Mexico for cooperating with Nigeria to ensure that the artifact was duly returned to Nigeria.

He however emphasized the importance of briefing the customs officials at borders, explaining that it is better to secure the country’s history from being stolen rather than going through the stress of negotiating for their return after they have been stolen.

The  Ife bronze was stolen from Nigeria and the stealing was interrupted in Mexico and Amb. Aminu Iyawa who was the Ambassador at that time became suspicious when he noticed it displayed at the Airport in Mexico.

The ambassador through his detective work and his diplomatic skills, after a year he was able to uncover the origin of the work and the fact that it was stolen and he confronted the Mexican Authorities.

He was then able to get the Mexican authorities to hand it over to the Nigerian people after proving that it was of Nigerian origin.

The item was meant to be delivered to Nigeria last year but because of the COVID-19 lockdown, he was not able to do so. This is all part of the great works that our diplomatic missions abroad are doing.

The minister of foreign affairs stated that most times, there are negative narratives about our diplomatic missions outside Nigeria but it is vital to appreciate the work they’re doing as representatives of the president.

Getting back a stolen artifact requires a lot of negotiations and time so we are grateful to our representatives who ensure they give their all to uphold our heritage.

There will be an official presentation of the artifact to the Minister of Information and Culture while the Ambassador of Mexico to Nigeria is present, after which it would be given to the National Commission for Museums and Monuments.

The Acting Director-General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Gimba Muhammed stated that some measures are have already been put in place to prevent stolen artifacts from going outside the country.

Mr. Muhammed however explained that many of the artifacts were stolen from Nigeria during the colonial era but the current security state of museums in the country would make it hard for any artifact to be stolen.