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Low car import duties payment worries Customs –Customs CG

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COMPTROLLER-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), has claimed that only an insignificant 10 per cent of cars imported into Nigeria have duties paid on them while the rest 90 per cent of the cars in use in the country are smuggled.

The Customs helmsman, who disclosed this to senior maritime journalists claimed that the smuggling was usually carried out by economic saboteurs.

Ali claimed that the on-going raids on car marts were mainly to ascertain whether the vehicles came into the country genuinely or smuggled.

He said that those found not to have entered the country genuinely will be forced to pay duties before their release.

According to him, “we want to use this opportunity to ensure that cars within our borders are fully customised, which means duties are paid on them. We are looking for revenue from everywhere and we have these people who bring in vehicles and fail to pay duties. What we are doing now, we are just enforcing the law, which allows us to collect revenue on behalf of Nigeria and also ensure those vehicles you and I will go and buy have genuine papers that are roadworthy. If you meet our officers on the road and they ask for the papers, if they discover you have not paid your duties, they will seize the vehicles. We are doing all these to save car buyers from running into trouble.”

“The law allows us to stop you and ask for the car papers, if your papers are intact, we thank you and bless you, if it is otherwise, we will ask you to pay the duties. If we find out you are not a smuggler, you are just an innocent buyer, we will value the car and ask you to pay the required duties on the car and you will be freed”.

Stakeholders, however, wondered why officers of the Nigeria Customs service will be constituting obstacles to free movement of persons, all in a bid to check import duties on cars, when they have checkpoints at the border stations, and have been enforcing anti-smuggling regulations.

Many advised customs to restore vehicle seats at the borders to enable vehicle importers to process clearance of their cars at the borders.

“Where were Ali’s men when the vehicles entered Nigerian territory without payment of duties? Customs should stop making the already difficult times quite more unbearable”, anonymous stakeholders cautioned.

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