Although the US has now returned some smuggled priceless Nigerian antiquities, there are still pending questions especially regarding the perpetrators of the smuggled of those artifacts which were returned on Thursday by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to the Nigerian Consulate in New York, Empowered Newswire reports.
The 10 Nok statues and one carved tusk were legally returned to Nigeria, but neither the US nor Nigerian officials were willing to divulge the actual identity of those who are behind the looting of the Nigerian antiquities two years after they were initially feared stolen by French authorities
Since 2007, HSI has repatriated more than 2,500 items to more than 23 countries. For instance in March 2010, the HSI returned a 3000-year old Egyptian coffin, citing a US importer and Spanish Gallery as those behind the stolen Egyptian sarcophagus.
But efforts by US and Nigerian reporters at the handing-over ceremony on Thursday in New York to get even the nationalities of those involved were gently parried as Nigeria's Consul General in New York, Habib Baba Habu explained that the identities were known but would not be divulged as yet.
Habu signed the legal papers returning the artifacts on behalf of the federal government at the downtown New York office of the US Homeland Security Investigations, HSI.
Also, while the smuggling of the artifacts had been detected and foiled since April 2010, US officials at the press conference said no arrests had been made as yet, further adding to the number of unanswered questions about the case. US agents tried to suggest that determining motive for such items may be tricky because some of those involved may be unaware of the significance of the items which were simply called handy crafts and personal effects.
When asked why it took so long since April 2010 till now, to transfer the artifact, the US Customs Border Protection's Director of Field Operations in New York, Robert Perez, said investigations in the last two years have focused mainly on identifying and ascertaining the "rightful owners," of the about 2000 years old antiquities.
Perez noted that "we had to take detailed procedural steps, which was a very deliberative process along with ongoing investigations," He said even though "we know some of the perpetrators," investigations are still going on to determine whether there are broader networks involved in the national and international crime.
In determining the rightful owners of the artifacts, the American officials sought assistance from French authorities, the Louvre in Paris, Interpol and the International Council of Museums, HSI special agents. A statement from HSI said it was "determined the Nok statues were in fact antiquities and not just handy crafts and personal effects as was disclosed on the importation documents provided to U.S. authorities."
But Nigeria's Consul-General, CG, in New York disclosed that the artifacts apparently had been stolen from the National Museums in Nigeria for which the Director-General is now being investigated.
Said Habu, the CG "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."
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, these artifacts were headed to Senegal from where it was sent to the US, enroute France.
No one is certain as to the timing of the artifacts' looting in Nigeria, even US officials could only speak of it begining from when the French security officials alerted them to the shipment, implying that the artifacts may have left Nigeria long time ago, or just about the time it was first feared stolen in France.
Without the alarm raised by the French, Habu lamented that there was no Nigerian alert about the loss of the "priceless antiquities." According to him at a press conference in New York on Thursday "we want to get to the root of it. We know the identities of the shippers, but we are not disclosing it yet"
Some local US media reported that an unnamed Manhattan Gallery owner is the importer of the artifacts into the US, even though US or Nigeria agents did not as much as declare the nationalities of those involved.
On their part the US government officials said they have not started prosecution of the shippers as yet, and no arrests made in the last two years. But they also added that once they have now been able to return the artifacts to Nigeria, they will now determine the next phase of the investigation, assuring that both the US and Nigerian government are committed to the eventual prosecution of the perpetrators in the future.
The artifacts described as priceless by both the US and Nigerian officials were seized by HSI special agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers after the importers surrendered the artifacts, according to a statement by the HSI.

The statement added that 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.
It was in France that French authorities first detained "a shipment of what they identified as Nok statues from Nigeria that were destined for the United States."
HSI added that "French officials alerted HSI and CBP who met the shipments when they arrived in New York. Chicago HSI had also previously seized two Nok Statues and a carved ivory tusk at Chicago O’Hare International Airport."
According to James T. Hayes Jr., Special Agent of HSI in New York, “the recovery of these statues is a testament to the collaboration between HSI and our United States and foreign law enforcement partners who devote countless resources to protect the cultural heritage of all nations.”
He added that “smugglers who thrive on greed place very little interest in the preservation of cultural property when they plunder ancient artifacts to sell to the highest bidder.”
Also Gary Hartwig, Special Agent in charge of HSI Chicago in his own comments noted that with the return of the looted antiquities both the US and Nigeria "are celebrating the fruitful collaboration of all our agencies in protecting the cultural heritage and history of Nigeria,”“The antiquities we are returning are remarkable treasures of untold historical significance that belong with their rightful owners. HSI will continue to investigate and seize national treasures of other countries that find their way to the Unites States under false pretenses.”

Habu had thanks for the US government.
“On behalf of the government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the consulate general, New York, would like to seize the opportunity of this ceremony to, once again, convey its appreciation for this friendly gesture, from its American friends,” said Consul General Habib Baba Habu, at the event in New York.
According to him, “the ten figurines and one carved Tusk will be returned to the national museum for display, at a ceremony to be presided by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.”

It was noted by the US government that the Nok statues are of great importance to the people of Nigeria, since the Nok culture civilization was discovered in 1928. In 1943, the first terracotta discoveries were accidentally unearthed at a level of 24 feet in an alluvial tin mine in the vicinity of the village of Nok, near the Jos Plateau region, which lies in the central part of Nigeria in West Africa.
As a result of natural erosion and deposition, Nok terracotta’s were scattered at various depths throughout the Sahel grasslands, making it difficult to date and classify the mysterious artifacts. Luckily, two archaeological sites, Samun Dukiya and Taruga, were found containing Nok art that had remained unmoved. Radiocarbon and thermo-luminescence tests narrowed the sculptures’ age down to between 2,000 and 2,500 years ago, making them some of the oldest in West Africa.
Most historians and archaeologists agree that the Nok culture spanned a period of time between 1000 B.C. until its sudden disappearance sometime around A.D. 500. The artifacts found seem to be the forerunners to styles utilized by later African culture in the area.


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Re: Who Stole Nigerian Artifacts Returned by US?
DeepThought posted on 07-28-2012, 17:00:21 PM
I read this news a short while ago on the internet elsewhere. I'm actually surprised its being reported if Nigerians give a shit.

>>Habib Baba Habu explained that the identities were known but would not be divulged as yet<<

Is the Country itself not stolen and already sold?

Re: Who Stole Nigerian Artifacts Returned by US?
Agidimolaja posted on 07-29-2012, 20:17:14 PM
Why the identities of the looters would not be revealed noweither by Nigeria authority,French authority,US authority etc sounds funny and really annoying.

The question we shouldall be asking is;whyare all those in possession of the hidden truthsinging the same song - not now? Habba! Not now,since 2010?But when? Maybe never.

Would the identities of such crooks not have been revealed if the artifacts were stolen from Britain's museum and brought across to USA? Who would stopFranceor any other Western country from revealing the identities of such looters of their artifacts when discovered?

But when racist Botha threwit to our face that we blacks are not as intelligent as whites,people were asking for his head. Where is our intelligence in this case? I mean why will our own Government not tell us who looted our Museum? Why was the looting not discovered by our Government through inventory?Is it then not safe to agree to it that certain Western country or countrieshave much to do with the looting, hence France,USA etc are not revealing the identities of the museum looters?

Trust me,how unintelligent we black people maysometime be is showcased here again. We as usual let them do to us what they would not let us do to them.

Deepthought sir,

Nigeria was not stolen and was not sold. The reason for my opinionis that;Nigeriaremains the personal property of those who dubiously created Her for their commercial returns and Nigeria as at today is in the pocket ofthat same creator.

How are we going to set ourself free fromthis shameful captivity is what should be Nigerians greatest concern.

Looting our own treasury,museum etc and taking the proceeds across the water tosafe keep in white peoples' Banks thus boosting theireconomy atthe expense of ours set us out as unintelligent people as racist Botha said.
Re: Who Stole Nigerian Artifacts Returned by US?
Ewuro posted on 07-29-2012, 21:44:28 PM
My question is who are those highly influential Nigerians who sold these artefacts to those foreigners. Some Nigerians colluded with these people. Did they not?
Re: Who Stole Nigerian Artifacts Returned by US?
DeepThought posted on 07-30-2012, 01:47:05 AM
My respects sir.
I don't think we're saying things that different. Maybe we have different ways of saying similar things.

I can't say I know all your views but I'm sure it must be especially painful for a person like you who fought in the Civil war for a united Nigeria to see the crazy way Nigeria has now turned out.

How are we going to set ourself free from this shameful captivity is what should be Nigerians greatest concern

I have my ideas on this......but its not what people want to hear so I generally keep my gadem mouth shut. But they say there is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come. When(if) the time comes, there will be no need to say anything, much less preach to anyone

Re: Who Stole Nigerian Artifacts Returned by US?
Agidimolaja posted on 07-30-2012, 04:39:50 AM
@ Deepthought

We are actually not saying different thing.I'm only expressing your view from my own standpoint.

I'm saying that you are rather toogenerous in saying that Nigeria may have been sold.I'm saying that it is even worst than that.

While I never regret fighting on our Federal Gov't side during the civil war,I'm however so sad to see what Nigeria turned out to be today. I'm so sad about my colleagues that losttheir precious lives in the combat and those that are permanently disabled.

The services rendered by those luckless but gallant men have been forgotten as looters loot the treasury in turn.

What we have today is not the type of Nigeria we fought to keep as one and to enjoy after the smoke is cleared..
Re: Who Stole Nigerian Artifacts Returned by US?
Agidimolaja posted on 07-30-2012, 04:49:22 AM
@ Ewuro

I'm also asking the same question;who are those Nigerians that colluded with foreigners in looting our museums?

Hmmmm! They must be from among those well connected crooks in our high places.
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