Despite the advice by the Senate asking the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to halt its planned enforcement of vehicles duty payment starting from April 12, the establishment insists it would clampdown on defaulters in line with its anti-smuggling drive, once the one month grace period lapses.
At a press briefing, in Abuja, on Wednesday, the Acting Public Relations Officer of Customs, Joseph Attah, urged Nigerians, especially automobile dealers, in possession of old or new vehicles without Customs duty payment, to take advantage of the one-month grace window to pay up and enjoy a 60 per cent rebate across board for vehicles of 2015 model and below.
He said the move was in the interest of security, adding that “soon, owners of smuggled vehicles without duty will longer be able to register them or renew their vehicle papers”.
He advised vehicle owners to visit the nearest Customs formation to ascertain the authenticity of the duty papers in their possession and make payments where necessary.
“Visit any Customs command near you and verify your papers and know if the right duty was paid. Ignorance is no excuse. There is a one-month grace period for now with 60 per cent rebate. It won’t be good to have your vehicles impounded or seized”, he said.
The Customs spokesman said the management would be at the Senate to explain what Nigerians stand to gain from the action.
Attah continued, “Senators are respected representatives of the people. When we visit them, we shall discuss and I’m confident that with the gains in this action, they’ll see reasons.”
He said Customs’ action was neither sudden nor arbitrary but a product of consultations and long standing engagement with the leadership of Association of Motor Dealers of Nigeria (AMDON), who pleaded for time to address the issue of vehicles without duty.
He said the Customs management may extend the deadline depending on compliance.
Attah explained the current action of Customs is in line with the Federal Government’s Vehicle Identification Project (VIP), which also enjoys the firm support of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Federal Road Safety Commission, Vehicle Inspection Officers and the Nigeria Police.
In his remarks at the briefing, the National President of AMDON, Ajibola Adedoyin said the body was developing a platform through which customers could ascertain the genuineness of their vehicles Customs papers.
“When you buy a car from us, something will be issued to you to avoid buying vehicles without duty. We have a listening CGC, as we continue with Customs on the new policy, if there’s need to extend the one month window, we will. It’s agonizing to buy a vehicle without duty and have it seized,” he said.