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Customs Service seizes 3,190 vehicles in two years

Customs Service seizes 3,190 vehicles in two years
Between 2015 and 2016, a total of 3,190 vehi­cles were seized by the Nigeria Customs Servic­es (NCS) as part of its anti-smuggling activities.
The 3,190 vehicles for the two-year period, according to the NCS, have a total duty paid value of N7.75bn
The figures are contained in a report prepared by the Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection Department of the NCS for the 2015 and 2016 fiscal periods.
A breakdown of the re­port showed that 1,724 vehi­cles with duty paid value of N3.95bn were impounded in 2015 while the customs recorded 1,466 vehicle sei­zures with duty paid value of N3.79bn.
Recently, NCS brought out the controversial policy on the payment of import duty on old vehicles.
However, the implementa­tion was later suspended fol­lowing an earlier directive by the Senate that the policy, which had generated contro­versies, be suspended.
The Public Relations Of­ficer, NCS, Mr. Joseph Attah, stated that the suspension of the policy would remain until the agency gets the support of the National Assembly.
“When a vehicle is inter­cepted by the Customs and the vehicle has no Customs duty, of course, it will be taken to the station and de­tained. There are times when you meet somebody and he tells you he is not in pos­session of documents or he claims that he paid and can­not produce the evidence; such a vehicle is detained pending the production of the valid Customs document.
“But in a case where he does not produce a valid doc­ument neither is he willing to come and pay, because as it is now, the Customs is even kind of bending backwards, and when such vehicles are intercepted, we are not too quick about seizure. If it is proven properly that the ve­hicle is your own and you can pay the duty, it’s left for you to go.
“But a smuggled vehicle that a smuggler has no in­tention to pay on is subject to seizure, because the law said it should be seized.”
In a similar development, the NCS said it had conclud­ed arrangement to auction seized goods online.
Customs said it will be done through a new e-auc­tion portal set up for dispos­ing of seizures that have un­dergone the process of court condemnation.
Attah said that only tax­payers with the Federal In­land Revenue Service issued Tax Identification Number would be eligible to partic­ipate in the auction, adding that Customs officers and their family members were excluded from the auction.
The guidelines also indi­cate that auctioned items cannot be replaced or funds paid refunded to bidders.
Attah said the auction would take place all over the country, adding that it was aimed at enhancing transpar­ency, reducing human con­tacts and congestion in the various government ware­houses, and increase reve­nue from the sales.
Successful bidders are ex­pected to make payments within five working days as winners who fail to pay with­in the period will forfeit the auctioned items to the sec­ond highest bidders.
Successful bidders will be given a period 14 days from the date of payment to re­move the items from the Customs warehouses or for­feit them at expiration of the period.
Any auctioned item not re­moved from the warehouse within 14 days from the date of payment, according to Attah, shall revert to its pre-bidding status, which makes it open for sale again.
Winners in the auction process are expected to pay 25 per cent of the auction amount to the terminal op­erator, and another 25 per cent of the auction amount to the shipping line operator.
Owners of seized items are excluded from bidding for them but may, howev­er, participate in the bidding for other items; while own­ers of overtime items with evidence of payment of duty and other charges have pri­ority over successful bidders for the items provided they have not been exited out of the Customs control.
Interested persons will be expected to access what is put for sale through the NCS trade portal to bid and the system will trigger victory to the highest bidder.
Hitherto, the service had conducted auctions through issuance of documents to beneficiaries with which they approached the warehouses before making payments to designated banks.
This method was viewed as not being transparent as ben­eficiaries of the auctions were believed to have been select­ed through a non-competi­tive process.
The new policy is coming 19 months after the Customs auctions were suspended fol­lowing the voluntary retire­ment of the former Comp­troller-General of Customs, Dikko Abdullahi.
Seized goods amounting to billions of naira that have been condemned through court processes are report­edly lying in the warehouses. - The Authority

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