Alhaji Abdulfatai Enabulele, the Chief Imam of Benin, has pledged the support of the Muslim Community in Edo State to Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, on the issue of who takes custody of the 1,130 stolen Benin artefacts the German Government proposed to return next year.
Alhjai Enabulele, who was in the Benin palace alongside other Muslim leaders to pay Sallah homage to the Oba, made the pledge in view of the controversy that has arisen between the Edo State Government and the Benin Royal Family over who takes custody of the artifacts when they are returned by the Europeans, who looted them when the defunct Benin Empire was attacked in 1897.
Enabulele reiterated that the Muslim Community would queue behind the Oba in the matter of custody of the proposed artefacts due to arrive Nigeria in 2022 from Germany.
“We Muslims do not support what is not right and what will cause conflict, problems. But we will support what will bring peace and development in our community as Muslims”.
“That is why we are praying that anyone who will want to do anything that is not right, God should change that person. You don’t challenge nor contest with the Oba in Benin kingdom”, Enabulele emphasised.
The Muslim cleric who expressed his displeasure over Edo State Government to house the artefacts in the proposed Edo Museum of West Africa Arts EMUWAA, pointed out that the Oba of Benin “is the chief custodian of our revered culture and tradition as well as the stolen artefacts wherever they are in the world.”
Enabulele who condemned what he termed “the double standard” of some persons in the state over the proposed return of the stolen artefacts, added that such move outside the one the Omo N’Oba proposed, could only be for “personal interests”, saying such could fuel crisis within the Benin kingdom..
“As Oba wants it, is what we the Muslims will support. All the artefacts should be returned to the Oba Palace”, Alhaji Enabulele maintained.
The Benin Chief Imam, while drawing inferences from the previous stolen artefacts that were returned in 1938 and 2013 during the reigns of Oba Akenzua II and Oba Erediauwa, respectively, which were brought directly to the Benin Palace and not somewhere else, stressed the case could not be different over the ones expected from Germany.
Responding, Oba Ewuare II thanked the people for the visit, just as he tasked them to continue to pray for the peace and development of the state