The German city of Cologne has announced plans to return looted Benin bronzes in the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum to Nigeria.

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In a statement released on Friday, the city’s council said it is already in consultation with the German foreign office and culture ministry to facilitate the return of the looted objects.

It added that the foreign office is currently preparing a political framework agreement between Nigeria and Germany for spring 2022.

“It is to be expected that with this framework agreement, the return of Benin court artworks to the state of Nigeria will receive foreign policy support,” it read.

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“The specific implementation of returns is left to the respective sponsors of the participating museums, but takes place in close coordination with the federal foreign office and the state ministry for culture and media.

“The final decision on how to return the artefacts in the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum remains with the Cologne City Council.”

According to the statement, the artifacts include 96 court artworks that were looted from the royal palace of the kingdom of Benin by the British army in 1897 and later auctioned off in Europe.

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The Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum is renowned as Germany’s fourth-largest collection of Benin court art.

The move is the latest amid ongoing efforts to repatriate looted artifacts from Nigeria during the colonial era.

Last year, the University of Aberdeen in Scotland had also declared plans to return Benin kingdom bronze in its possession.

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