The French Government has formally presented to Nigeria an artifact, the Nok Terracotta figurative sculpture that was repatriated after it was intercepted in France while in transit from Togo to the United States in 2008.
Making the presentation, French Ambassador to Nigeria, Denys Gauer officially handed the Nok Terracotta to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at a ceremony to mark the 2016 International Museum Day in Abuja on Wednesday. The Minister in his reaction thanked the French Government for acting with honour and demonstrating a will to combat illegal trafficking of artifacts. He said
“I will like to thank the French Ambassador specially for his country’s show of support in our fight against illicit trafficking of cultural goods and their untiring efforts at restitution and return of such items. I wish to recommend this ‘French Model’ to other countries,”
The minister echoed the administrations resolve to support culture and tourism in its bid to diversify the nation’s economy and generate wealth for the ordinary man.
He said the Administration places high premium on the development of the nation’s cultural sites and their utilization as veritable tourism products. He went further to say:
“We are positive that in our quest for the diversification of our economic base, this section will provide the needed instrument to actualize that goal,”
In his remarks, the French Ambassador said the presentation of the Nok Terracotta was in line with International Law and within the framework of the 1970 UNESCO Convention aimed at preventing the illicit import and export or ownership of cultural properties, which was ratified by both France and Nigeria.
The Nok culture was discovered by Europeans in 1928 during the mining of tin, but its history originated in northern Nigeria around 1000 BC and is thought to be a product of an ancestral nation that comprised of the Hausa, Jukun, Gwari, Birom and Nupe peoples. Nok Terracotta figures are coil built, nearly life sized human heads and bodies that are depicted with highly stylized features in varied poses.