Auction of contested African artefacts going ahead in Paris

PARIS (AP) – A Nigerian commission has called for the cancellation of an auction yesterday of sacred Nigerian statues in Paris, which it alleges were stolen.

Christie’s auction house has defended the sale, saying the artworks were legitimately acquired and the sale will go ahead.

French courts have consistently ruled in favour of auction houses in recent years whose sales of sacred objects, such as Hopi tribal masks, were contested by rights groups and representatives of the tribes.

A Princeton scholar, Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu, alongside Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments, raised alarm earlier this month that the objects were looted during the Biafran war in the late 1960’s.

Christie’s wrote earlier this month to the Nigerian commission, saying the sale would go ahead.

Okeke-Agulu, member of the Igbo tribe, said the objects were taken through “an act of violence” from his home state of Anambra and that they should not be sold.