Customs Boss Accuses Vehicle Smugglers Of Denying Government Proper Statistics

A cross section of some of the seized exotic cars by the Federal Operations Unit (FOU A) of the Nigerian Customs Service in Ikeja recently.

The Controller in charge of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU A) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Comptroller Muhammed Uba, has accused vehicles smugglers of denying the federal government of proper statistics of the number of vehicles that comes into the country.

Comptroller Uba, who said this last week while showing some of the seized vehicles to newsmen in Lagos, he also added that between 1st of January to 31st of January 2018, the unit  seized 31 exotic cars worth N1,429,953,941.50.

He also said that the government is more concerned about ensuring that importers follow due procedure more than the money, adding that it will help the government to get accurate information of what comes into the country.

He also accused these importers of being a selfish lot, who are only concerned about what they get and not the welfare of the government.“Even in the ports, if you declare falsely your vehicles or container will land here. Like I told you if you have a Toyota Corolla and you decide to go and put Toyota Camry it will still end here, because that has denied the government the accurate statistics of how many Toyota Corolla that have been imported into Nigeria. You see the government is not too concerned about the money it is about the procedure, even if you pay in the money and you do not follow the procedure of what the government has spelt out, such goods will be detained they can only be released after due investigation has been conducted. Just like I told you, they are not after the development of the society they are after themselves so for that reason we have to continue to implement the federal government policies. Importation of vehicles through the land border has been banned and we will continue to enforce that order”, he told journalists.

Uba re-emphasized the need for vehicles to come in through the approved routes, even as he said that smugglers are liable to serve jail terms if caught urging the general public to ensure that they follow the due process and the approved routes when importing their vehicles.

He said: “When you don’t declare properly what you are carrying, you are denying the government statistics and the government needs the statistics for development purposes.  Records have to be taken so that the government will have record of what goes on and comes in. If you import anything and you conceal it with a plan to deceive custom officer that one is liable to seizure and it is punishable with 5 years prison.

Whatever we do we do it within the confines of the law and if we don’t know we ask questions from legal experts. Vehicles can only come in through the ports and due processes must be followed appropriate government money must be collected”.

According Uba, the exotic vehicles which were mainly 2017 models were evacuated from car marts and undisclosed residence adding that the importer failed to pay the duty on them.

“Most of all these seized vehicles are mainly 2017 model and the reasons for the seizure of all these vehicles are because government money has not been collected. No duty has been paid; if you bring in anything that is supposed to be paid duty for and the federal government money was not collected the final place is here because the federal government money must be collected before your goods are released”, he stressed.

The Controller also promised that officers of the service are ready to fight corruption to a standstill no matter the strategy the smugglers deploy, even as he maintained that he has given the smugglers a grace period to come up with relevant papers and claim their vehicles.

Sounding tough, he stated that: “No matter what the smugglers and their agents whoever they employ, that will not stop us from carrying out our constitutional duties’’

‘’You can now see these vehicles are very expensive if you look at the DPV and the value of the vehicle, now how an individual can buy this type of vehicle and refused to pay the duty. I have giving them a grace period to produce relevant customs papers and as long as nobody produces anything, these vehicles after due processes will be forfeited to the federal government. However we are trade facilitators and part of our core mandate is to facilitate trade, if anybody produces his paper showing that the federal government money has been collected we will release the vehicle. If you short-pay, no matter how small we will collect the full money even if the goods are zero duty due process must be followed the government is not a revenue making organization”.

He said that based on information and intelligence, some of the vehicles were intercepted on the roads while others were evacuated at car marts and residential homes.

“Based on intelligence and information, some of these vehicles were intercepted along Ijebu Ode road, some were collected in various car parks and individual houses based on information. Because by section 147 of CEMA, we are empowered to break anywhere and enter so far as there is serious suspicion; so it was based on information. The law is clear, what you entered in your documentation and on examination, the contrary was found, the law clearly states that these goods are liable to seizure and forfeited to the federal government; we only implement what the law says” Uba said.