Vice President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr Kayode Farinto, has called for the review of the Customs and Excise and Management Act (CEMA) over the introduction of a 1971 log book as a requirement for clearance of used vehicles.
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) had in a circular dated April 23, 2021 and signed by the Deputy Comptroller General (T&T) TM Isa and sighted by our correspondent, stated that Log Book is now a mandatory requirement for the clearance of used vehicles.
However, reacting to the circular, Farinto a customs-licensed agent frowned at the reintroduction of Log Book for clearance of used vehicles.
He said the relevance of having the logbook in the past was to ascertain the model of the vehicle and year of manufacture, but noted that over the years in Customs operations, a lot of things have been put in place to ascertain the manufacturer, the year of manufacture and the body of the vehicle, which he called the VIN number or title of the vehicle.
Farinto while speaking with newsmen on Thursday in Apapa, informed that the directive will not only further encourage corruption, as clearing agents may be forced to begin to forge log books, but will also lead to retrogression for the country.
He added that the use of log book has since been phased-out with the use of VIN as the new alternative for the log book.
He informed that most vehicles that come into the country no longer have log book, while calling on the NCS to withdraw the circular, even as he stressed that 70 percent of vehicles with log book are written in language that are not understandable by agents.
According to him, “the directive of Deputy Comptroller General of Customs for tariff and trade, that it is mandatory for any vehicle that must be cleared at the nation’s ports to have logbook and I said no, because it looks as if the management of Customs is taking us backward, and we are not in medieval period.
“I know that the relevant section of the law quoted by the DCG was enacted in 1971 and it says if you are going to clear any vehicle in seaport, you must have what is called a logbook.
“The relevance of having the logbook then was to ascertain the model of the vehicle and year of manufacture.
“However, over the years in Customs operations viz aviz; WCO procedure, a lot of things have been put in place to ascertain the manufacturer, the year of manufacture and the body of the vehicle and that thing is called VIN number or title of the vehicle.
“70 per cent of the logbook are not even written in English because they actually emanate from vehicles that are coming from Europe.
“If you recollect, in few weeks back, I said Customs is encouraging corruption because we do not have uniform tariff on imported vehicles. And that necessitated this circular on logbook. I still want to say that Customs is not getting it right.
“One of the seven key principles of Customs harmonisation, which was given to them by the former Comptroller General of Customs, Abdullahi Dikko, is, if you are confused, consult your colleagues.
“Ordinarily, what this DCG who issued the circular on the logbook should have done was to consult his colleagues to look at what it is in line with the international best practice.
“If the WCO hears that Nigeria Customs Service is asking for logbook in this 21st century, it would become a laughing matter. We do not want Nigeria to be a laughing stock in the comity of nations.
“We advise Customs to look inward to withdraw the circular and advise itself so that there would be a better sense of direction.
“The issue of logbook is an outdated thing, which is no more in practice around the world, 70 per cent of the logbook are in European language, which could be in German or Dutch language.
“Logbook actually emanated when Nigeria was doing importation through European countries. Now importation from Nigeria is beyond European nations. Nigeria now imports from China, America and India.”
Meanwhile the circular issued by the NCS gave a 90 days’ grace period for importers and clearing agent to comply.
The letter reads in part: “I am directed to refer to the above subject matter and to convey that Log-Book is now a mandatory requirement for the importation of any used motor vehicle into the Country. This is in consonance with the provisions of Customs & Excise Notice No.30 of 6” December, 1971.
“Consequently, a grace period of 90 days, effective from the date of this Circular, is allowed to enable all importers who must have entered into trade transactions before this circular , process and clear their vehicles.
” For the purposes of emphasis, importation of used motor vehicles requires the production of vehicle log book, in addition to other clearance documents after the grace period.