Officials of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments have demanded that United States Museum of Fine Arts in Boston return 32 artifacts looted in 1897.
According to Yusuf Usman, the Director-General of the Commission, the said items were looted as spoils of war during the Benin Massacre of 1897 by a British expedition.
"Without mincing words, these artworks are heirloom of the great people of the Benin Kingdom and Nigeria generally," Usman said. "They form part of the history of the people. The gap created by this senseless exploitation is causing our people, untold anguish, discomfort and disillusionment."
The sculptures are comprised of 28 bronze pieces and six ivory.
"It is very saddening that the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, [which] now claim[s] to be the new beneficiary of these works, indicate[s] that the donation met all legal standards," Usman said. "One wonders what they mean by this. Are they working out of the UNESCO Conventions and other standard setting instruments?"