Friday 27 July 2012

More Looted Artefacts from Nigeria Smuggled to US

The usual speeches were exchanged on the occasion of the US authorities making a big thing of handing over ten smuggled Nok statues and a "carved tusk" to Nigeria the other day after HSI special agents had determined the Nok statues were in fact antiquities "and not just handicrafts and personal effects as was diclosed on the importation documents".
The items were seized by HSI special agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers after the importers surrendered the artifacts. HSI special agents at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) first learned of the stolen Nok statues in April 2010 after receiving information from French customs officials. French authorities had detained a shipment of what they identified as Nok statues from Nigeria that were destined for the United States. French officials alerted HSI and CBP who met the shipments when they arrived in New York. HSI Chicago had also previously seized two Nok statues and a carved ivory tusk at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
What are the chances that they would have stopped this particular shipment if they'd not been tipped off by the French authorities?

Akande notes that "neither US or Nigerian officials were willing to divulge the identity of those who behind the looting of the Nigerian antiquities two years after they were initially detected stolen by French authorities":
[...]  Nigeria’s Consul General in New York, Habib Baba Habu explained that the identities were known but would not be divulged as yet [...]  investigations are still going on to determine whether there are broader networks involved in the national and international crime [...] But Habu [...] disclosed that apparently, the artifacts were stolen from the National Museums in Nigeria for which the Director-General is now being investigated [...]. “These were stolen from the National Museum, but there was no such report from Nigeria that the items were stolen. Now, the DG of the Museum is being investigated because the items were in storage, inventories under his care,” he said. Habu however disclosed that before heading to France where French officials detected the artifacts, the looted antiquities came from Senegal, suggesting that after they were looted in Nigeria, the artifacts were taken to Senegal from where they were sent to the US, en-route France.
I have a feeling that this story is now more likely to appear on the blog run from the offices of Bailey and Ehrenburg, Mr Tompa loves highlighting stories about brown-skinned foreigners stealing from their own museums.
'HSI returns stolen and looted antiquities to Nigeria', HSI News Release, July 26, 2012.

Laolu Akande, Officials Silent Over Looters Of Nigerian Artifacts Returned By U.S. , Nigerian Guardian, 28 July 2012

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