By Suzzy Tolofari
The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Retired Col. Hameed Ali, has approved one month grace for all Nigerian vehicle owners who have not paid duties to do so or face outright seizure of the vehicles.
And this applies even to new vehicles bought from car dealers.
The Acting Public Relations Officer of the NCS, Mr Joseph Attah, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja.
He said that the comptroller-general had given a window of one month, from March 13 to April 12 for car owners to pay the appropriate duty on their vehicles.
The public relations officer said that some owners of vehicles brought into the country through the land borders, obviously, did not pay duty.
He advised that owners of such vehicles should go and comply by paying the duty on their vehicles.
Attah listed four Customs Zonal offices where authenticity of Car Customs duty could be verified; such as Zone A Headquarters, No 1, Harvey Road, Yaba, Lagos; and Zone B Headquarters, Kabala Doki, Kaduna.
He mentioned other offices where duty could be verified as: Zone C Headquarters, Port Harcourt and Zone D Headquarters, Yelwa Tudu Road, Bauchi State.
Attah said that any vehicle owner in doubt,who was not sure of the authenticity of his Customs document, could approach the above zones closest to him to verify.
He said that after the deadline of the given period, Customs would embark on an aggressive anti-smuggling operation to seize vehicles as well as prosecute the owners.
The Customs spokesman said that since the ban on importation of vehicles through the land borders by the Federal Government, the service had been working to perfect the process of issuing licences for bonded vehicle terminals for car dealers.
Attah said that before the start of the process, “NCS is advising all car owners in Nigeria that have not paid duty on their vehicles to do so’’.
“Once we start issuing the licence, any vehicle already in the country with no evidence of duty payment, will be liable to seizure and the owner will be prosecuted.
“We advise Nigerians to take advantage given to them within the one month to go to our zonal offices closest to them to pay. Even those who are not too sure of the Customs document in their possession—because some people may have ignorantly brought these vehicles with fake documents—they should go and verify.
“If they discover that what is in their possession is fake, they should just pay the duty.
“Immediately after the deadline, the NCS will embark on an aggressive anti-smuggling operation to arrest vehicle owners, seize the vehicles and prosecute the owners, ‘’ Attah said.
He said that “a smuggled vehicle is always a smuggled vehicle unless the appropriate duty is paid on it.”
According to him, the status of a smuggled vehicle never changed.
“The number of years of a smuggled vehicle does not change its status.
“We just advise that any person who knows that appropriate duty has not been paid on the vehicle he or she is using including motor dealers, who have collections of assorted cars in their car mart should go and pay duty, ‘’ Attah said.