Nigerian car owners on Monday called for a reversal of a recent decision of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to levy duty on old vehicles already in the country.
The vehicle owners in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) urged the Senate to review the new policy.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NCS on Thursday, March 2, announced a one-month grace for all Nigerian vehicle owners who had yet to pay duty to do so or face outright seizure.
The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali, had given a grace of one month from March 13 to April 12 for vehicle owners to pay the appropriate duties on their vehicles.
Some vehicle owners who spoke with a NAN correspondent said that evasion of duty on vehicles was caused by corrupt Customs officials at the land borders.
Victoria Onohwakpo, a business woman, said the decision of the Customs Service on payment of duty showed that the service was shifting its responsibility to Nigerians.
Mrs..Onohwakpo said it was the responsibility of Customs to ensure that duties were paid on all the vehicles that came through the land borders.
She said since the Federal Government banned the importation of vehicles through the land borders, the new policy should start from 2017 and not on the old cars.
“How can a vehicle owner be using his car for over five years and one day you just come and seize it because duty has not been paid and threatening to prosecute the vehicle owner?
“I think that this decision by Customs will cause a panicky situation in the society because a lot has been going on lately in terms of security challenges.
“People will start using this opportunity to rob innocent Nigerians of those cars by claiming to be Customs officials on the road.
“This is how people’s vehicles will be seized.
“I bought my car five years ago and it is now that the NCS is asking me to verify the authenticity of my Customs clearance and if I verify and it is fake; I will have to pay duty.
“How did vehicle importers succeed in bringing in these cars through the land borders, if not the fault of Customs?
“I think that the Senate should clearly review this policy and I do not see it working in Nigeria.
“I think the Senate should look into it because if they are trying to raise their revenue target, it should not be from retrospective duty payment,” Mrs. Onohwakpo added.
Ikenna Obelle, a public servant, said that Customs duty should have been paid before allowing any vehicle into the country.
“I think one month grace period given is too short. What they (Customs) should have done is to say let us start afresh.
“So, what they (Customs) is doing is going to bring pains on Nigerians and car owners.
“It will destabilise the system and they are going to push a lot of people out of jobs,” Mr. Obelle said.
Thompson George, a businessman, advised Customs to look at other methods in trying to meet their 2017 revenue target.
“How can Customs come up with this kind of policy in this time of recession when people are trying to survive.
“I think Senate should look into this,’’ George said.