ABUJA - The National Commission for Museum and Monument (NCMM) has decried the rate at which the country’s heritage sites and monuments were looted by “criminal minded elements”.
Malam Abdalah Usman, the director general, said this in Abuja while speaking with newsmen on the state of antiquities in the country.
He said that archaeological sites and some objects were daily looted and objects removed due to what he described as lack of proper policing.
Usman said it had been difficult for the commission to police museum and heritage sites because of what he attributed to shortage of staff in the commission.
“Nigeria is very rich with thousands of archaeological sites and some of these sites have been looted and objects removed’’
“Sometimes it is very difficult to police these entire heritage sites and the number of staff the commission has is inadequate to police all the sites, “ he said.
According to Usman, the commission is doing a little it can to ensure that these sites are well protected and we have enlisted the services of the police and other law enforcement agents.
He added that the service of communities where the heritage sites were located had been sought to ensure that they were protected, hence NCMM had sensitised the communities on the need to protect the sites.
The DG said that it was doing everything possible to combat the activities of the looters, adding that it was also working on the areas that were prone to looting to ensure that they were well protected.
He said that the number of national monuments in the country were 65, which, he noted, spanned several centuries and distributed over the geographical zones.
“Some of these antiquities are threatened by encroachment and defacing by some people who try to steal them, “ Usman said.
He said NCMM had sent 30 lists of heritage sites to the national assembly to be made national monuments.
Usman said that there was need for some of the antiquities to be taken for “treatment” , adding that some of them were wearing out.
“These monuments have life just like human being they need to be attended to on a regular basis they are the only image that we have of ourselves and as a country’’.
“We need to conserve these antiquities, we acquire objects through archaeological excavation when we discover this objects excavation will be carried out by archaeologists which has provided clearer picture of the place with the needed data,“ he said.