The Government of Mexico has returned an Ile-Ife bronze sculpture to Nigeria after it discovered that it was illegally exported.
This was contained in a press statement obtained on Mexico’s website on Wednesday. The statement said the origin of the sculpture was authenticated by experts.
It reads in part, “The customs agency of Mexico’s Tax Administration Service, in coordination with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture, returned a bronze Ife sculpture of the Yoruba people to Nigeria.
“The sculpture was discovered by customs officials at the Mexico City International Airport when the buyer tried to get it into the country.
“The sculpture and its provenance were authenticated by experts and agencies of both countries, with the participation of specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History. It had been exported illegally.”
The statement added that returning the sculpture to Nigeria was part of Mexico’s commitment to protecting cultural heritage.
It added, “Mexico strongly opposes illicit trafficking in cultural property. By returning it to Nigeria, the government shows its commitment to protecting cultural heritage. International monitoring and cooperation are essential for complying with current laws, including the 1970 UNESCO Convention.
“The illicit trafficking of cultural property is one of the main causes of the impoverishment of cultural heritage. It deprives the world of valuable information about the origin, context, and nature of these objects.”
The statement quoted Nigerian Ambassador Aminu Iyawa as thanking Mexico for its assistance.
“Mexico and Nigeria have strong bilateral ties and channels of dialogue that made it possible for this sculpture to be returned,” the statement added