President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to nations, institutions and bodies, both private and public, to return Nigeria’s artefacts in their possession.
Presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement on Monday in Abuja, said the Nigerian leader made the appeal in the aftermath of the return of two important Nigerian artefacts from Britain.
The President welcomed the official handover, on Saturday, of the Okwukor and the Head of an Oba of Benin bronzes, to the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II.
They were repatriated from the University of Cambridge and University of Aberdeen, respectively, in the United Kingdom, after 125 years of their leaving the territory of present day Nigeria.
While urging other countries to take a cue from the institutions, the president vowed that the Federal Government would pursue the repatriation of Nigerian artefacts vigorously.
According to him, government will ensure that they are put to good and proper use on their return in museums and other facilities in conjunction with the royal families and kingdoms that lost these artefacts.
He noted that in line with international law and practice, export, import and control over antiquities were matters within the purview of national governments to be exercised on behalf of sub-national authorities, institutions and bodies.
He thanked the Government of the United Kingdom that facilitated the return of these artefacts by issuing the prerequisite Export Permits to Nigeria at no cost, as well as the University of Cambridge and the University of Aberdeen who agreed to return these artefacts to Nigeria.
”These are unprecedented moves worth emulating by others,” he said.
He added that the federal government hopes to work hand in hand in the future to encourage the return of more Nigerian artefacts from the United Kingdom.
”I also want to appreciate the Federal Republic of Germany which is planning the process of repatriating 1,130 Benin Bronzes to Nigeria from many of Germany’s public museums. These returns are scheduled for this year.”
The president also commended the High Commissioner of Nigeria to the United Kingdom, Sarafa Ishola, and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) for their collaborative works that led to the repatriation of these artefacts.
According to the president, it is noteworthy that several others are currently in the process of being returned while discussions are ongoing to repatriate many more.
Buhari recalled that the artefacts now returned to the Oba of Benin were taken away by British soldiers in 1897 when they attacked the ancient Benin Kingdom and took thousands of artefacts away.
”These artefacts are part of the records of the history of the Benin people.
”My directive to return these artefacts to the Oba of Benin marks the beginning of another aspect in the highly valued relationship between the Federal Government of Nigeria and our traditional institutions who are indeed the true custodians of our history, customs and traditions.
”This directive is also significant because it will introduce a working relationship between the Federal Government as represented by the NCMM and the traditional institutions whereby this Commission negotiates the release of antiquities from foreign museums and institutions on behalf of Nigeria.
“And the traditional institutions that lost the antiquities and jointly they all take steps to ensure the valourisation of Nigerian and Nigerian people through these great arts and cultural emblems,” the president explained.
Bauchi Blasphemy: We ‘ll not accept this brutal way of murder – CAN
Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria ( CAN) in Kaduna State, Rev.Joseph John Hayab has raised concern over the allegation of blasphemy in Bauchi, saying the challenge now is for Government authorities and security agencies to act fast to address abuse of the constitution before it leads to a more serious conflict that can not be handled.
He said in a statement on Saturday, that allegations of blasphemy have now become the new excuse by fundamentalists in Northern Nigeria to kill the remnant that bandits and terrorists have not yet killed.
“How can you justify the period of what happened in Sokoto, the allegation in Borno, the fake allegation on Babachir Lawal by one northern actor who we have on record how he made blasphemous remarks about
Jesus Christ but quickly went and brought it down on the internet to cover himself before coming out to falsely accused Babachir Lawal the former SGF and today we are seeing another carnage in Bauchi under the excuse of blasphemy, “He said.
“We know and have evidence of how some of these allegations of blasphemy are false and just for blackmail or settling scores with perceived enemies or well-mannered young girls who have refused sexual advances by the opposite sex from another religion.”
“We are also aware of how fanatics have in the past raised lies in the name of blasphemy.”
“CAN wonder if the recent sermons we are getting from some Islamic clerics on what the Holy Quran says about what should be done if anyone is accused of blasphemy is unpopular amongst followers?”
“The challenge now is for Government authorities and security agencies to act fast to address this abuse of our constitution before it leads to a more serious conflict that can not be handled.”
“Nigeria Christians most especially those of Northern extraction have for ages exhibited tolerance despite many provocations and lack of reciprocation of our love and friendship but these new tactics for killing our people from any and every accusation of blasphemy are unacceptable to CAN and all Christian faithful.
We will not accept this brutal way of murder and inhuman treatment of our followers to continue.”
“Government and security agencies should come out to enforce the law on every murderer hiding under religion.
We will also wish to appeal to Christian leaders and parents to guide their children to resist any ungodly provocation that will make them says things that blood-thisty fundamentalist can easily use to kill them.”
“CAN is appealing to religious leaders from both religious divides to intensify teachings about the evil of taking the laws into one hand and killing another person for whatever reason.
Allege offenders should be reported to security agencies or taken to any competent court of law for judiciary pronouncement.
Nigeria is not a banana republic but a nation we believe should be governed by the rule of law,” he said.
Oyetola bags Vanguard 2021 ‘Governor of The Year Award’ for Good Governance
LAGOS EXPLAINS OKADA CLAMPDOWN
Lagos State Government has described the ongoing enforcement of restrictions on the operations of commercial motorcycles, popularly called okada, in certain parts of the State as a necessary step to curb their indiscipline, save lives and improve security.
Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, spoke on Channels TV Sunrise Daily about the new enforcement order given by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the backlash recorded in a part of the State.
According to Omotoso, the resurgence of Okada operations and acts of indiscipline being exhibited by riders have become a serious source of concern as many people have lost their limbs and lives through Okada accidents.
His words: “Our doctors are complaining that more and more people are coming with Okada-related emergency. About 1,712 accidents have been recorded in Lagos in the first quarter of this year. Out of this figure, about 45 percent; to be precise, 767 of the accidents were caused by Okada. And it is shocking to know that about 54 percent of the victims are between the ages of 30 and 39. These are our able-bodied young people who are getting cut down like that all because they mounted okada.”
Attributing the high fatality rate of riders and passengers to plying about 500 highways, major roads and bridges, which the Road Traffic Law prohibited, Omotoso affirmed that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s order was to reinforce the law and give the riders an opportunity to move out and find some other things to do.
He said: “There is a Law that lists all the routes commercial motorcycles are restricted from plying. The Law is still there; it has not been repealed. So, the enforcement is not new and it is going to continue as the June 1st deadline stands.”
Describing as unfortunate the insecurity in some parts of the country that has forced many people to migrate to Lagos to make ends meet by riding Okada, the Commissioner explained that the development led to complaints from residents who have expressed their rejection of okada.
“Lagosians are worried about the mystery of Okada; they don’t know where they come from; the riders are unknown; they don’t even have number plates. They don’t come for LASRRA registration, so we can’t account for them,” he said.
Speaking further, the Commissioner described the approach to the renewed enforcement as well planned and strategic because the State expected the kind of backlash the exercise has generated, but assured all that it was an experience the law enforcement agents were used to.
On possible increase in crime rate, following the enforcement, Omotoso said “everything the law enforcement agencies need in terms of equipment, welfare and encouragement would be provided for them to step up enforcement and security of lives and property.”
The Commissioner expressed the determination of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to ensure full enforcement and allayed fears that the government would want to go back because of politics.
He said: “Mr. Governor is a man of integrity; he is a man of his words. He is going to ensure that whatever it takes to enforce the law will be done. We have been encouraged by Lagosians who have seen the danger and who feel that moving with Okada from one place to another because it is very fast cannot be compared to the security threat they pose. The goal is to have a Lagos without motorcycles because there is no megacity in the world that you go to and find this kind of mode of transportation.
“It is also preposterous for anybody to say for our votes come and mess up Lagos. No, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Governor, is not going to do that. This is the last time we are going to have this as the bikes are being crushed to show people that we are very serious, and communicate to those bringing them in, that enough is enough.”
Omotoso advised okada riders to look for something else to do as there are so many opportunities in Lagos for anyone who wants to stay in Lagos and wants to be law-abiding.
“You should go and collect your LASRRA card and be an official resident of Lagos and find something to do. Artisans who left their jobs to ride Okada should find a reason now to go back to their jobs,” he said.
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