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The United States and Nigeria have signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding establishing a Cultural Property Agreement between the two countries.

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The agreement was signed Thursday by US Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard and Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed in a ceremony attended by Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama and US Embassy representatives.

In Nigeria, the cultural property remains vulnerable to pillage, destruction, and loss as a result of excavation, criminal activity, natural disasters, and subsistence digging.

The agreement will support efforts to identify, intercept, repatriate, and protect cultural property and related heritage, as well as efforts to identify, intercept, repatriate, and protect cultural property and related heritage.

The agreement will also encourage the exchange of archaeological materials for scientific, cultural, and educational purposes in order to raise public awareness of Nigerian cultural heritage.

“This agreement will strengthen our already strong cooperation to preserve and maintain Nigerian cultural landmarks and sites through the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation,” the US Embassy said in a statement (AFCP).

Over the last decade, the US has collaborated with the Nigerian government and state institutions to fund projects totaling over a million dollars, including a $125,000 AFCP grant awarded in November 2021 to digitally survey and document the Busanyin Shrine located within the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove.

“Another significant investment is a $400,000 AFCP grant for the conservation of Sungbo’s Eredo monument, which will use three-dimensional laser scanning technology to generate a precise topographic map covering a thousand square kilometers of the monument’s area.”

Cultural Property Agreements are administered globally by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in collaboration with other governments seeking increased cooperation in this area.

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These bilateral agreements help to support the United States government’s efforts across various agencies and organizations to protect and preserve cultural heritage in host countries.

This includes denying critical funding to organizations that engage in the illegal trade of artifacts and other valuable cultural objects. The United States has signed Cultural Property Treaties with several African countries, including Egypt, Libya, Mali, and Morocco.

“Today’s agreement is about learning from the past and recording our partnership to preserve, restore, and protect Nigeria’s diverse cultural heritage,” Ambassador Leonard said at the ceremony.

 

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