Comptroller General of The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali has chosen to lock horns with the Nigerian Senate, following; first, his refusal to honour a Senate summons to answer questions on it’s new vehicle duty policy, which required car owners and dealers nationwide to pay duties on their vehicles before April 12, or risk having their cars impounded.
When the retired Army Colonel did appear, he did so in mufti contrary to the directive from the Senate which demanded that he appear in Uniform.
The CG argued his case on the grounds of constitutionality, but the lawmakers were having none of that and consequently sent him away from the chambers and to appear again next Wednesday in uniform.
What is the big deal in CG Ali appearing in uniform anyway? Afterall he has appeared before the same Senate before in his mufti without anyone taking up any issue.
Perhaps there is more to this… Er… Pettiness?
According to reports on SaharaReporters, the Senate’s current war against the leadership of the NCS has its roots in the fact that Customs officials seized a bulletproof Range Rover Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) owned by Senate President Bukola Saraki.
The reports claim that Nigerian Customs officers in Lagos had on January 11, 2017, intercepted and impounded a Range Rover SUV which carried documents that claimed its chassis number was “SALGV3TF3EA190243.”
Citing Customs sources, the value of the car is put at ₦298 million, which meant that customs duty of ₦74 million should have been paid on the car.
At the interception of the car, its driver claimed that the vehicle belonged to the Senate President and presented a letter from the National Assembly liaison office in Lagos, indicating that the driver of the luxury vehicle was authorized to drive the Senate President’s official Range Rover bulletproof car.
Furthermore, when asked to show evidence of duty payment and an end-user certificate from the office of the National Security Adviser — a document required for bulletproof vehicles — the driver presented documents that were found to be fake, the report claims.
Customs officials said that, apart from the fact the customs duty of ₦8 million that was paid was extremely low, they also determined that the presented document itself was fake. They consequently seized the vehicle.
Later the same day, January 17, 2017, the Senate sent a letter signed by one Architect O.A. Ojo acting as the Secretary of Procurement, Estate, and Works of the National Assembly, requesting the release of the vehicle, which he claimed belonged to the convoy of the “Senate”.
In its response, the Nigerian Customs sent a letter signed by its Othman, A.S. Comptroller, Import and Export, the letter dated January 24 2017, again requested for the end user certificate as well as evidence of proper clearance before the vehicle could be released.
The report further claims that neither Saraki nor the National Assembly provided the required documents.
Customs sources, according to SaharaReporters said that the shady practice of importing vehicles meant for personal use with fake documents was widespread among Nigerian public officials, especially senators.
The sources suggested that the attempt by Mr. Ali to check the practice had provoked the ferocious attacks against the Customs Service and its leadership.
Some highly placed Nigerians have for many years been evading the payment of proper duties on their imported luxury cars. They want to continue to get away with their habit which denies Nigerians a lot of revenues.
– Unnamed Senior Customs officer
The Senate has forced Mr. Ali and the Nigerian Customs to suspend the policy of checking automobiles to ensure compliance with appropriate levels of duty.