Netherlands returns Nigeria’s 600-year old Ife artefact

The Netherlands has returned to Nigeria a terracotta head, thought to be at least 600 years old, after it intercepted at the Schiphol airport, in Amsterdam, in 2019.

According to a statement from Nigeria’s ministry of culture, the artefact from the ancient Ife city in south-western Nigeria was smuggled to Netherlands through Ghana using a forged document.

Nigeria’s government won a case in Netherlands against the suspected smuggler, winning possession of the piece.

The Netherland’ ambassador to Nigeria attended the handover ceremony on Thursday.

Nigeria’s Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the repatriation of the Ife head “marked a milestone in Nigeria’s efforts at pursuing the return of the country’s antiquities”.

The artefact is to be taken for cleaning and treatment before its eventual display to the public, said the minister.

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