The Nigerian Customs Service will today commence the verification of all vehicles in the country, with the aim of ensuring payment of duties on the vehicles, irrespective of how old they are. Even as the Nigerian labour Congress (NLC) has kicked against the exercise.
In a circular released early this month, the Comptroller-General of Customs, retired Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali, approved a grace period of one month for owners of all vehicles in the country whose customs duty had not been paid to make the payment.
The service advised all motor dealers and private owners of such vehicles to visit the nearest customs office nationwide to verify and pay the appropriate duty on them.
The order by the customs authorities has, however generated serious controversy among vehicle owners and other stakeholders. The Senate has also called for the suspension of the exercise and summoned the Customs boss, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) to appear before it tomorrow, Tuesday.
The NCS is, however insisting on its stand but with 60 percent duty rebate on all vehicles that are of 2015 model and below.
After the deadline, the NCS said it would mount an aggressive anti-smuggling operation, not only at the borders but all roads nationwide to impound any vehicle that did not have appropriate duty papers and prosecute its owner. “For the avoidance of doubt, all private car owners who are not sure of the authenticity of their vehicles’ customs documents can also approach the zonal offices to verify their status with a view to complying with the provision of the law,” the statement concluded.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) on Sunday kicked against the directive.
NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, in a letter to the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, said that the directive was unrealistic.
Wabba said the NLC strongly opposed the directive.
“We are opposed to this new policy because it will create unimaginable chaos and suffering for innocent end-users of vehicles.
“It is self-serving and will, in the end, enrich unscrupulous Customs personnel who contributed, in no small measure, to the present situation through act of commission or omission and will amount to rewarding their complicity.
“It is common knowledge that duties on imported vehicles are payable at the points of entry.
“Subjecting end-users of vehicles to this kind of trauma, most of whom have no hand in the importation of their vehicles, is unfair and unacceptable.
“There is no information on the vehicles to be excluded from this exercise.
“This presupposes that the owner of a Morris Minor or a Peugeot 404 brought into this country in the 70’s is similarly affected.’’
Wabba said a stage for all manner of endless verification and re-certification was being created in the country.
The NLC president said it was morally wrong to inflict on the citizenry this kind of discomfort.
He, therefore, advised the Nigeria Customs Service to shelve the plan.
Wabba said that NLC was aware that one of the statutory functions of the Nigerian Customs Service was to collect tax on behalf of the government, often times in the form of duty on imports.
“As part of the civic and commercial responsibilities of both corporate and non-corporate citizenry, they are expected to pay appropriate duties on their vehicles as stipulated by law.
“Sadly, out of irresponsibility or sheer criminality, some devise ways to evade this responsibility; for instance, some take measures as desperate as `flying’ their vehicles into the country, thus denying government the needed revenue.
Wabba however urged the Comptroller-general of Customs to have a rethink on the directive.