The Vehicles Owners Association of Nigerian (VOAN) and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have expressed their opposition to the Nigerian Customs Service’s (NCS) ultimatum to all vehicle owners in the country to pay the duties on their cars between March 13 and April 12, failure to do so, they will have their cars impounded.
Both bodies have described the policy as unrealistic, with VOAN threatening to drag the Customs Service to court if it fails to withdraw the directive within seven days.
VOAN, in a letter to the Comptroller-General of NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.), through its counsel, Tolu Babaleye, called on the Customs Service to consider the interest of 35 million Nigerians who would be adversely affected by the “ill-timed and ill-conceived” policy if enforced.
“As much as we would love to commend the NCS for this laudable step, we would like to state that this policy is ill-timed, ill-conceived and directed at the wrong set of people in the country, and same will unleash untold hardship on car owners in Nigeria and pit government against the general public.
“About 35 million Nigerians would be affected by this policy if same is carried out.”
Babaleye was emphatic that innocent Nigerians should not be made to suffer for the acts of car dealers who imported the cars without paying the necessary import duty with the active connivance of men of the Customs Service.
“Towards this end, we give the Customs Service seven days from the date of receipt of this letter to comply with our demands on behalf of our client, failing which we shall not hesitate to approach the court of law to seek redress on behalf of our client and in the interest of downtrodden and oppressed Nigerians.”
The NLC has also condemned the recent policy directive by the Customs Service on imported vehicles.
NLC President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, in a letter dated March 7, 2017, and addressed to the Comptroller-General of Customs, described the new policy directive as “unrealistic”.
Wabba said that though the labour union fully supports the NSC to carry out its statutory functions of collecting taxes on behalf of the government, often times in the form of duties on vehicles, it, however, opposes the new policy, which it says is “logistically callous and will create unimaginable chaos and suffering for innocent vehicle end-users”.
“We strongly hold the view that those who break the law or seek to break the law should be sanctioned to serve as a deterrent to others. The need to enforce tax laws in our country is all the more necessary because of social justice and other dwindling revenue sources
“Our support for the Nigerian Customs Service is therefore not in doubt. If anything, the Customs should be encouraged to do their work well.”
The Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC), Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali two weeks ago granted a 30 day grace period to all vehicle owners whose Customs Duty have not been paid, to do so or face prosecution.
The grace period is between Monday, March 13 and Wednesday, April 12, 2017, the NCS said in a statement.
According to the statement, all private car owners who are not sure of the authenticity of their vehicles customs documents should approach the Zonal Offices to verify if they are to comply with the directive.
The statement gave the four Zonal Offices of the Service to be 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.