The Senate has directed the Nigerian Customs Service to halt its proposed enforcement of payment of car duties by vehicle owners in Nigeria.
This followed a motion raised by the Deputy Senate Majority Leader, Bala Na’Allah who described the directive by the Customs as “very serious” and urged his colleagues to look into it.
Contributing to the motion, Kogi State lawmaker, Dino Melaye, noted that “it’s impossible to import and clear a vehicle without the knowledge and corroboration of customs personnel.”
“We should not pay for the incompetence of the customs,” he said.
In his remarks, Senate President Bukola Saraki said that it was the responsibility of the senate to ensure the welfare of Nigerians.
The lawmakers subsequently resolved that the proposed enforcement by the Nigerian Customs be put on hold until authorities of the service have appeared before the Senate committee on Customs to further clarify the decision.
Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali had approved a grace period of one month – March 13 to April 12 – within which vehicles owners in the country whose customs duties have not been paid are to pay up.
A statement issued by the Service warned Nigerians to take advantage of the grace period to pay the appropriate duties on their vehicles “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 directive sparked controversy among the citizens with some arguing that duties are usually paid by vehicle importers and not person that has purchased the vehicle.
Some Nigerians wondered why the Customs Service would not take their enforcement drive to the car dealers in order to ensure that all the cars that are for sale have had their import duties paid for.