From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has accused Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), as well as elites in the country, of enabling smuggling by buying smuggled vehicles.
The Assistant Control General of Customs (ACG), in charge of modernisation, Saidu Galadima, stated this, on Tuesday, when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Customs.
Galadima noted that an amendment to the Public Procurement Act to ensure that duties are paid on vehicles before they are taken over by MDAs would help to curb the purchase of smuggled vehicles by government agencies.
According to him, “unfortunately today the big men in Nigeria… all their escort vehicle Hilux are smuggled vehicles.
“MDAs patronise smuggled Hilux vehicles. That is why if you go to our system, the number of Hilux importation has dropped but you find hundreds of them in town; mostly used as escorts.
“If you make an amendment to the Finance Act, and an amendment to Procurement Act, that before a vehicle is taken over, you verify the custom duty; it would go a long way. NCS buy Hilux vehicles, but they do not take delivery until when the papers are verified that duty is paid.”
The chairman of the committee, Leke Abejide, frowned at the non-payment of import duties on vehicles. However, Abejide appealed to Customs to give those concerned a three months grace to pay up, after which they can be penalised.
He said “we are appealing that three months grace should be given and whoever does not pay within this period should go to jail. We are begging on behalf of Nigerians that there are millions of them and they are willing because they want to use these vehicles within Nigeria and I believe if they do this it is possible you even get N1 trillion more in revenue.”