The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has impounded 13 new bullet-proof and five other exotic vehicles suspected to have no evidence of duty payment from Kefiano Motors Limited in the Central Business Area of Abuja.
Conducting newsmen round the 18 exotic vehicles at the Customs headquarters around 11 am today, the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd), said a tip off led the Customs Compliance Team to the dealer last Saturday where the suspected smuggled vehicles were displayed for sales.
Col. Ali said the vehicles had no evidence of duty payment and that the 13 bullet-proof vehicles have no issued End User Certificates required from the office of the National Security Advisers (ONSA) for importation.
“Beyond the issue of non-payment of Customs duty, 13 of these vehicles are bullet-proof. They require clearance from the ONSA before importation. In a period of fragile security, we cannot afford to have unauthorised persons use armoured vehicles. Without End user Certificates, possession of these vehicles is illegal,” Ali declared.
The Daily Trust reports that there are two Range Rover Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), one 2018 model Rolls Royce car, four Lexus SUVs, three Mercedes G-Wagon SUVs, and two Toyota Prado SUVs.
The others are two Toyota Sequoia SUV, one Lincoln Navigator SUV, one Infinity SUV, one Mercedes 4matic car, and one Toyota Camry car.
Col. Ali also said in the last two months Customs had stepped up its implementation of the federal government’s ban on importation of vehicles through land borders.
He said: “This re-invigorated anti-smuggling activities have yielded positive results in the last two months across the country,” adding that 265 vehicles have been seized so far.
He gave the breakdown to include 135 vehicles seized in Zone A, Lagos; 93 vehicles seized around Zone B, Kaduna and 37 others seized around Zone C, Port Harcourt. Col. Ali said computation of seizures for Zone D, Bauchi will follow shortly noting that the clamp down is ongoing across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
Customs noted that Section 147 of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45, laws of the federation of Nigeria 2004 gives the Service the power to ‘search premises’ while Section 158 of CEMA empowers it to patrol freely to combat smuggling.
The Customs boss warned Nigerians to desist from smuggling and patronising smuggled items saying 90 per cent of vehicles at dealers’ shop are smuggled. “The best thing we can tell you is that buyers beware.
“Let it be known that being in possession of smuggled item is an offence punishable under Section 3 of CEMA (Special Penal and Other Provision). If you are found guilty in the court, it is one year jail term without an option of fine,”
He vowed to go beyond the shops to the homes of automobile dealers to search for suspected smuggled vehicles across Nigeria.
Ali said the minimum price of the 18 vehicles impounded will be at N70 million noting that one among the brands was valued at N280m. on the fate of the dealer, he said if there were evidences showing attempts to pay the duties, then the real values will be calculated for payment.
“However if there was no attempt to pay the duty, then the vehicles will fall under outright seizure,” Ali said noting that there was no arrest yet because the dealer claimed to have evidence of duty payments and was allowed to prove such of which failure will lead to arrest.
“If it is outright seizure, we will apply the law, prosecute them and ensure they are jailed no matter who they are,” Ali declared.