Slavery: Nwoko’s call for reparation, apology, gets British Govt attention

ABUJA- The British Government has acknowledged her role in the slave trade in Africa and pledged to address the shared history with honesty and openness.

The government also said it would ensure that current and future generations learn lessons from the history, and work towards tackling current challenges.

This is contained in a letter by Mr Richard Montgomery, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, and addressed to Sen. Ned Nwoko, the Senator representing Delta North Senatorial District.

The letter by the High Commissioner followed an earlier one from Nwoko, dated Sept. 19, 2023, demanding apology and reparation over slavery and inhuman exploitation of Africans by colonial countries.

In the letter made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja, the lawmaker harped on the need for a comprehensive reparations framework, which should meticulously assess the damages inflicted by centuries of slave trade and colonialism.

He called on former colonial powers to invest in education, healthcare, infrastructure and economic empowerment in African nations, especially those that have borne the brunt of centuries of exploitation.

“l urge the repatriation of culturally significant artifacts that were taken from the African continent during the colonial era.

“In recent years, there have been instances of selective return of stolen artifacts to the Benin Kingdom, but what justice demands is wholesome restoration of these items to the people and places they were forcefully and illegally removed,” Nwoko said in the letter.

Montgomery however said via a letter dated Dec. 11, addressed to the senator, that the UK government believed that the most effective way to respond to the wrongs of the past was to ensure that current and future generations learn lessons from history.

He also said that it was necessary that both countries continue to work together to tackle today’s challenges.

According to him, this speaks to the optimism and potentials of the relationship going forward, based on close collaboration and mutual respect as Nigeria develops its economy and exerts positive influence on the international stage.

He added that the UK was seeking to broaden and strengthen bilateral partnerships with Nigeria across security, defence, climate change, and trade and investment, as well as enhanced trade and investment partnerships for the mutual benefit of all.

“The UK has also been and remains one of the largest providers of official development assistance both globally and in Nigeria. This stands alongside our renowned diaspora and people-to-people links.

“I hope you will join me in looking ahead with excitement to the strengthening of our bilateral relationship,” the High Commissioner added.

Montgomery acknowledged that the issues raised by the lawmaker were important as they pertain to Britain’s colonial past in Nigeria and around the world.

“I wish to assure you that these issues are given due consideration by both the British High Commission in Abuja and by His Majesty’s Government in the UK.

“As High Commissioner to Nigeria I am committed to addressing our shared history with honesty and openness, honouring the strength and breadth of our partnership.

“We acknowledge the role Britain played centuries ago in enabling the horrific slave trade, including in what became Nigeria, whilst also noting that Britain led the world in ending it.

“Since that time, through Nigeria’s colonial period and via the peaceful transition to national independence in 1960, close ties between the UK and Nigeria have enabled mutual understanding and a shared respect for our partnership.

“This does not change the past, and I welcome your engagement across challenging issues in our shared history,” he added. (NAN)

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