Do you own a car in Nigeria? Lawlessness with impunity is knocking at your door.
The vehicle for this draconian law is the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). Its comptroller-general, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (retd), has given all vehicle owners 30 days within which to pay the customs duty on their vehicles or face prosecution.
Most vehicle owners in Nigeria are ignorant of how their vehicles were imported – smuggled in or not. Now, they are to pay taxes which car sellers aided by corrupt customs officials might have evaded.
Ali’s directive is likely to be resisted. It is unjust, sources said. “Are we being forced to pay for customs’ inefficiency and corruption?” asked Dahiru Usman.
In a statement by its acting PRO, Joseph Attah, on Thursday, the NCS said all private owners and motor dealers have between Monday, March 13, and Wednesday, April 12, 2017, to visit the nearest customs zonal office to pay the appropriate customs duty on them.
“The CGC therefore calls on all persons in possession of such vehicles to take advantage of the grace period to pay appropriate duties on them, as there will be an aggressive anti-smuggling operation to seize as well as prosecute owners of such smuggled vehicles after the deadline of Wednesday, 12th April, 2017,” the statement said.
It clarified that all private car owners who are not sure of the authenticity of their vehicles’ customs documents should approach the zonal offices to verify so they could comply with the directive.
The statement gave the four zonal offices of the service as: Zone A Headquarters at No. 1 Harvey Road, Yaba, Lagos; Zone B Headquarters, Kabala Doki, Kaduna; Zone C Headquarters, Nigeria Ports Authority, Port Harcourt; and Zone D Headquarters, Yelwa Tudu Road, Bauchi State.
Ali himself had, last December, admitted that most registered vehicles were not documented for duty payment by the NCS. How reliable, therefore, would the customs’ instrument for determining if customs duty on a vehicle has been paid or not?
NCS banned importation of vehicles through land borders with effect from January 1, 2017, in an effort to discourage vehicle smuggling and evasion of customs duty payment.