The Netherlands has returned a terracotta head to Nigeria, thought to be at least 600 years old, a year after it was intercepted at the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam.
The artefact from the ancient city of Ife in South-western Nigeria was smuggled to Europe through Ghana using a forged document, according to a statement from Nigeria’s ministry of culture.
Nigeria’s government won a case in Netherlands against the suspected smuggler, winning possession of the piece.
The Netherlands’ ambassador to Nigeria attended the handover ceremony on Thursday.
Nigeria’s Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the repatriation of the Ife head “marked a milestone in Nigeria’s efforts at pursuing the return of the country’s antiquities”.
The artefact is to be taken for cleaning and treatment before its eventual display to the public, according to the minister.