By Muhaimin Olowoporoku
The Church of England has promised to return two Benin Bronzes to Nigeria as the row over repatriation of African treasures continues to grow.
Lambeth Palace said it is discussing the return of the Benin bronzes which were given as gifts to the Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie almost 40 years ago.
The two artefacts are to be returned to the planned Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA) which is being built in Benin.
A Lambeth Palace spokeswoman said: “We have recently been contacted by the Digital Benin project at the MARKK (Hamburg) who enquired about our collection of gifts at Lambeth Palace and if we had received any Benin kingdom objects as gifts over the years.
“In response, we have confirmed to the Digital Benin project that we have two bronze busts, given to us by the Benin kingdom in 1982.
“These were gifted to Archbishop Robert Runcie by His Excellency Chief (Prof.) Ambrose F. Alli and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka
“We have offered for the two busts to be included in the Digital Benin project and eventually, returned to our friends in Edo, Nigeria where they may remain.
“We are currently in discussions with the EMOWAA, via the Legacy Restoration Trust, to arrange this.”