By Ali Inuwa
Former Senate Leader, Sen. Mohammed Ndume, on Wednesday advised the Nigeria Custom Service (NCS) to fish out the source of fake import duty documents issued to car owners, rather than embarking on seizure of vehicles with fake documents.
Ndume gave the advice while addressing newsmen in Maiduguri on a recent circular by Assistant Comptroller of Customs Joseph Auta.
He expressed support for the Senate’s resolution calling for the suspension of the impending seizure of vehicles with fake import duty documents by the service.
According to Ndume, the planned action of the service is tantamount to undue harassment of motorists plying the highways.
“The NCS said that they will be seizing people’s vehicles on the road instead of the borders, the Custom has no business going to town to ask anybody anything.
“They should stand at the borders and do their job; where is the fake import duty coming from; is it not from the Custom?” he asked.
Ndume said that the service should look into its operations and fish out the bad eggs rather than checking for culprits in the larger society.
“They should make sure that there is no fake import duty document around.”
“What does an innocent buyer has to do with fake import duty?
“In fact, Nigerians are buying second hand cars because they cannot afford the new ones, why suffer them the more?”
He urged the Service to set aside their plan or else they face stiff opposition from Nigerians.
“From the information that I have gathered, some human right lawyers are already wading into the issue so as to ensure that poor Nigerians are well protected.
“Laws are not applied in retrogression,” Ndume said.
The Senate passed a resolution directing the Nigerian Customs Service to halt its plan to penalise Nigerians who did not pay duties on their vehicles within one month.
The resolution, on Tuesday, followed a motion by the Deputy Leader, Sen. Bala Na’Allah, who said the new Customs policy was “a serious matter”.
In his contribution, Kogi sSnator, Dino Melaye, said it was not possible to import vehicle without clearance or “collaboration” of the customs.
The Senate resolved that Customs should halt actions until the agency appeared before its Committee on Customs.
Senate President Bukola Saraki said it was the responsibility of the senate to ensure welfare of Nigerians.
Customs had threatened to impound vehicles without duty papers, and to prosecute their owners.