THIS IS THE TRAGIC STORY OF THE FALL OF THE BENIN KINGDOM IN NIGERIA.
At the end of the 19th century, the kingdom of Benin had managed to retain its independence and the Oba exercised a monopoly over trade which the British found irksome. The territory was coveted by an influential group of investors for its rich natural resources such as palm-oil, rubber and ivory.
The kingdom was largely independent of British control pressure continued from figures such as vice-consul James Robert Phillips and Captain Gallwey (the British vice-consul of Oil Rivers Protectorate) who were pushing for British annexation of the Benin Empire and the removal of the Oba.
The Benin Expedition of 1897 was a punitive expedition by a United Kingdom force of 1,200 under Admiral Sir Harry Rawson. As a result much of the country's art, including the Benin Bronzes, was either destroyed, looted or dispersed.