AFRICANGLOBE – The Government of France has returned a valuable artefact, Esie statute, stolen from Nigeria in 2011 and seized by Customs officials at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.
The statue, which originated from Kwara State is said to be between 500 to 900 years old.
The Ambassador of France to Nigeria, Mr. Jacques Champagne de Labriolle, at a symbolic handover ceremony to mark French National Day in Abuja Sunday night, said the artefact was returned in line with France hardline stance against trafficking in art works and historical items.
He also handed over the restitution documents to the Director General of the National Museum and Monuments Commission, Dr. Abdalla Usman. Labriolle described the statue as one of great antropologic value, while he recalled that five items of Nok origin were returned to Nigeria in February this year by the French government.
Speaking on bilateral issues between Nigeria and France, the envoy disclosed that the trade volume between the two nations reached about $6 billion annually.
He added that Air France, which commenced direct flights between Abuja and Paris in 2012 had recorded so much success on the route that it had converted to the use larger aircraft.
“French businessmen would visit Nigeria in October this year to access the potentials for their business. I have no doubt they would be interested provided the appropriate environment is guaranteed,” he said.
He said French troops have assisted ECOWAS to restore peace and push out terrorists in Mali, adding that the French Mission in Mali was a success.
He disclosed that 18 Nigerian troops marched alongside AFISMA and French troops in Paris on Sunday to mark the national day.
By: Damilola Oyedele