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To Reduce Illicit Trafficking Of Ancient Arts, Nigeria And US Sign MoU


Lai Mohammed and Mary Beth Leonard

Nigeria and the United States of America have signed a Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA) agreement on Thursday.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has expressed optimism that the agreement will reduce the pillage of Nigeria’s ancient arts.

Lai Mohammed expressed positiveness while signing a Memorandum of Understanding on the CPIA with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, in Abuja.

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He said “This legislation was enacted by the United States to restrict the importation into the U.S. of archaeological materials ranging in date from 1500 B.C. to A.D. 1770 as well as ethnological materials including those associated with royal activity, religious activity, etc. from nations that have entered into the kind of bilateral initiative that we are signing here with the United States today,” 

Mohammed also said that based on the agreement, Nigerian antiquities being imported into the United States without the requisite Export Permit will be seized at the border of the United States and returned to Nigeria without the burdensome and costly task of going through the labyrinth of judicial and diplomatic processes.

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“We are optimistic that this agreement will reduce the pillage of our irreplaceable archaeological and ethnological materials, as the market for these materials is being shut in the United States against illicit traffickers," he said.

Adding that “The agreement will last for an initial period of five years. If it works well, as we anticipate it will, it shall be renewed for a longer-term. We implore other friendly nations to take a cue from the United States of America and join us in finding means to prevent the illegal importation of our antiquities into their countries,” 

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the minister further revealed that the signing of the MoU became a necessity because, despite all efforts by the Ministry of Information and Culture and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, with the assistance of law enforcement agencies, to prevent illicit export of the nation’s archaeological and ethnological materials, widespread looting and illicit excavation of these materials continue.

According to him, the stolen artefacts are mostly smuggled to Europe, the United States of America and other places for the benefit of art collectors.

While thanking the Government of the United States, in particular the Embassy of the United States in Nigeria, for making the MoU possible, Lai Mohammed said the Nigerian Government looks forward to a dynamic performance of the landmark agreement, so it can become a game-changer in the nation’s efforts to prevent the looting of its priceless ancient works of art.



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