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Commission appeals to communities to protect antiquities

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THE National Commission for Museum and Monument (NCMM) has appealed to communities to ensure adequate protection of antiquities in their areas, in order to bequeath lasting heritage to the younger generation.

Malam Abdalah Usman, the Director-General of the commission made the appeal  in Abuja in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Usman urged traditional rulers and members of the various communities to ensure that antiquities were given adequate protection.

He lamented the rate at which the country’s antiquities were being looted unchecked and called on communities, individuals and traditional rulers to rise up to the challenge.

The director-general said that failure of traditional rulers and members of the various communities to protect the heritage could lead to their total extinction.

Usman said that any community that disregarded its heritage would not only lose its essence, but would distort historical facts about the community.

NAN reported that the commission, on November 22, 2012, sought legal backing to prosecute those who committed offences against the nation’s heritage resources, such as monument defacing and antiquity theft.

“The commission, through the machinery of law intends to prosecute offenders involved in antiquity theft, monument defacing and other offences against the nation’s heritage resources,’’ Usman said.

The director-general added that the commission would also send inspectors to each local government area to serve as watchdogs against the stealing of antiquity.

He said, “illegal trafficking in antiquities is one of the challenges that is confronting the commission because it is very difficult to police those unscrupulous elements perpetrating the act.’’

Usman said that the issue of purchase of antiquities was of prime importance to the nation.

He said that the commission was poised to acquire more antiquities, adding it had acquired valuable objects from vendors across the country, who brought them for safe-keeping.

Usman said that the commission was saddle with the responsibility of securing them and that the commission had not been able to pay the vendors, who brought the antiquities.

“In recent times, due to dwindling financial resources the commission has been unable to pay vendors as and when due,’’ he said.

He, however, called on communities not to sell their heritage, adding that doing so could be detrimental to the growth of such communities in terms of tourism.

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