Respite may have come the way of those whose vehicles were impounded over underpayment of duty as the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) yesterday, said it has opened a platform for vehicle importers, owners and organised vehicle dealers to pay customs duty on smuggled, undervalued vehicles in the country.
The Customs Area Controller, Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A, Compt. Muhammed Aliyu, who stated this while briefing media men stated that about 150 car marts were sealed in Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Lekki, in Lagos, adding that the unit also seized over 5000 bags of foreign rice smuggled into the country.
He assured Nigerians that vehicles voluntarily brought forward by their owners for payment of duty won’t be seized.
According to him, the decision to open the platform was to allow Nigerians who own smuggled or undervalued vehicles to regularise their customs duty.
“For the category of vehicles that were detained, we have a platform now where the owners have the opportunity to pay their customs duty. At the same time, we have given a window for someone who has his or her personal car and hasn’t paid duty to come forward as the federal government has given an opportunity to pay the duty.
“But the issue is that the owner has to come forward with the vehicle because it is more advantageous. Also, the vehicles whose duty is to be paid, may have been bought in 2015 or 2016 and has been put to use but without customs duty, we have agreed and allowed owners to come and make necessary duty payment,” he stated.
Aliyu urged owners of undervalued vehicles to make use of the window before it closes as anyone arrested after expiration of the window period would not be spared.
Speaking on the car marts sealed, the CAC said some of the affected car marts have been opened after due diligence was observed.
“I can say that from Victoria Island and Lekki, we sealed not less than 150 car marts but we have held meetings with them and they asked how to pay but we advised them if they can reach agreement with us, we will take inventory of the vehicles, open a small side where they sell their vehicles and they pay up within two weeks and that is how we simplified the job.”
“The reason for shutting down the car marts is to authenticate the marts that pay duty while those that didn’t pay were asked to come and pay the actual duty to the federal government.
“Also, when we take inventory of the vehicles, the owner will show the documents they paid duty on and we go to our system to confirm if it is genuine. If the benchmark is correct we allow it to go but for those that don’t meet our benchmark, we ask them to pay the shortfall and pick their vehicles.
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