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Oxford University may return items looted by Britain in Nigeria in 1897 | Oxford University


Oxford University may return almost 100 artefacts that were looted by British colonial forces in 1897 after Nigeria requested the repatriation of cultural objects this year.

97 objects, including bronzes, were removed from Benin City by British troops and are now housed in the collections of the Pete Rivers Museum and Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

The Pete Rivers Museum has received a demand for the return of the items from the Nigerian National Commission Museums and Monuments (NCMM).

Oxford University Council has decided to support the request, which will be reviewed by the charity commission before the artefacts are allowed to be returned.

The university said the lawsuit is expected to be heard by the fall.

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The University of Oxford said: “On 7 January 2022, the Pitt Rivers Museum received a claim from the National Museums and Monuments Commission of Nigeria for the return of 97 objects in the Pitt Rivers and Ashmole Museum collections that were removed from Benin City by the British Armed Forces in 1897 .

“The claim is now being processed by the university under the claims procedure for the return of cultural property.

“On June 20, 2022, the council of Oxford University considered and upheld the claim for the return to Nigeria of 97 objects.

“The university is now referring the case to the Charity Commission, recommending that ownership of the NKMM facilities be transferred.

“The Charity Commission is expected to consider the claim by autumn 2022.

“As one of several UK museums to hold significant material removed from Benin in 1897, Pete Rivers has been involved in long-term research and engagement projects in partnership with Nigerian stakeholders and representatives of the Royal Court of the Kingdom of Benin.

“Since 2017, the museum has been a member of the Benin Dialogue Group and is playing a leading role in discussions on the future care of the collections.”

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