Looted artefacts in Oxford museums could be returned to Nigeria
Almost 100 artefacts that were looted by British colonial forces in 1897, could be repatriated following a request from Nigeria.
The objects were taken from Benin City and are currently held in the collections of Oxford’s Pitt Rivers and Ashmolean museums.
Oxford University Council has decided to support a claim from Nigeria’s museums commission.
It will be considered by the Charity Commission before it can be authorised.
In a statement, the university confirmed the Pitt Rivers Museum had received a claim for the return of the 97 items, including bronzes, from Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM).
“The claim is now being processed by the university following its Procedures for Claims for the Return of Cultural Objects.
“As one of several UK museums that hold significant materials taken from Benin in 1897, the Pitt Rivers has been involved in long-term research and engagement projects in partnership with Nigerian stakeholders and representatives from the Royal Court of the Benin kingdom.
“The university is now submitting the case to the Charity Commission, recommending transfer of legal title to the objects to the NCMM,” it added.
It is expected the Charity Commission will have considered the claim by autumn.