The leadership of Igun Bronze Casters Guild, Benin City, on Monday dissociated themselves from a publication by a diaspora group under the name Igun-Igbesamwan-Owina Descendants Cultural Movement of Europe and America on the ongoing plan to return the over 1000 artefacts looted in Benin City during the 1897 invasion of the palace of the Oba of Benin.
The guild, in a peaceful protest to the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Edo Council, also urged the diaspora group not to pitch it against the palace as they are subjects of the Benin monarch.
The protesters were armed with placards of various inscriptions such as, “We debunk the claims of Erahuyi Isokponwu and Adolor Oviasu-Oreoghene, they should come out to clear themselves.
“We dissociate ourselves from America/Europe fake descendants. We belong to the Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, we are with His Royal Majesty, Oba of Benin.
“No individual or group can make us become enemies of the Benin monarch, the Igun community will always be loyal to the Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, among others.”
The president of the guild, Kingsley Osarenren Inneh, the Ine of Igun, who spoke on behalf of the protesters, said the bronze casters were not and would never be part of the publication.
Recall that a group under the name of Igun-Igbesamwan-Owina Descendants Cultural Movement of Europe and America had last Friday in an advertorial in national dailies claimed that 75 percent of the artefacts looted in Benin Kingdom during the 1897 British invasion of the kingdom were from Igun-Igbesamwan-Owina.
The advertorial was signed by one Erahuyi Isokponwu and Adolor Oviasu-Oreoghene and addressed to the minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed.
Kingsley Osarenren Inneh said the bronze casters operate directly under the instructions and guidance of the Oba and not independently, saying, “We are of the sound view that the Oba and the palace are the right authorities to hand over the soon-to-be returned stolen artefacts.
“We wish to state that whoever are the mischief makers acting behind the scene and suddenly becoming so generous by dolling out large chunks of money to their acolytes and social media influencers to cause confusion where none exist will not go unrewarded by the ancestors.”
He however, called on security agencies, especially the International Police (Interpol), to spread their dragnet to get the real identities of those behind the same publications.