A pan-Igbo religious body, Ogbako Odinani Worldwide, has lent its voice to the call made by concerned Nigerians and the government for the return of two sacred artifacts recently sold in France by Christian body at the cost of USD240,000.
The wooden artifacts were said to have been looted from Indigenous Igbo altars by treasure hunters under the guise of Christian evangelism many years ago. At Same auction event an Urhobo artifact was also out on sale for USD1million.
Speaking with journalists recently, the leader of the organisation, Nze Chibueze Onyido said that his organization was prepared to work with the Federal Government to ensure that all sacred artifacts stolen from the shrines by those masquarading as Christians and priests and sold abroad were returned to their original communities as part of their history and spirituality.
He decried what he described as “pure hypocrisy” on the part of some so called men of of God, who on one hand condems their own Igbo religion as evil but on the other hand steals from same Altars to enrich themselves.
Speaking in the same vein, the Secretary General of the organisation, Dike Ugbaja said that the organisation has started taking court action against churches and individuals who desecrate and loot Ọdinani Igbo Altars as this constitutes a breach of freedom of worship and destruction of national trasure. He emphasised that his organization resorted to legal actions to calm restive Ọdịnanị and Óménàlà youths who have vowed to also burn down churches in retaliation.
“We are currently involved in such a court case in Ụmụaka Town in Imo State” said Ugbaja.
He said that the Nigerian National Commission for Musuems and Monuments has long pressured European nations to return all sacred and precious artifacts looted from various Indigenous Nigerian altars, despite this, many sacred artifacts continue to find their way into the European musuems illegally.