The crackdown by the personnel of the Nigeria Customs Service on car marts suspected to harbour smuggled vehicles has continued nationwide.
Our correspondent gathered on Monday that so far, the Customs Comptroller General’s Strike Force and the Customs Federal Operations Units across the country had shut over 272 car marts in the ongoing raid.
It was gathered that in Lagos, the FOU and the strike force had shut 162 outlets. This is in addition to 110 outlets reportedly shut in the Federal Capital Territory and some states in the North such as Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto and Kebbi.
The crackdown, which started on September 29, entered its second week on Monday.
The spokesman for the NCS, Mr Joseph Attah, had disclosed that the exercise based on credible information that there were smuggled cars in the car sales outlets.
The raid was also reportedly extended to a popular hotel in Abuja where owners of exotic cars were alleged to be hiding their cars when they got wind of the crackdown.
Our correspondent learnt that the examination of the car shops and the documents were still ongoing.
Attah said the aim of the exercise was not to arrest anybody but to get people to pay the correct duty on the cars.
It was gathered that owners of most of the affected cars either did not pay duty or paid amount far below the required duty.
Those that were found not to pay or underpaid were given what the NCS called the Demand Notice to effect payment.
The Comptroller General, NCS, Hameed Ali (retd), advised the car dealers to pay the proper duty and get back their cars.
The service equally imposed a penalty of 25 per cent on impounded cars after the duty must have been paid.
Speaking in reaction to the report that the Customs had imposed 25 per cent penalty on impounded cars, the President General, United Berger Motor Dealers Association, Metche Nadiekwe, said anybody found smuggling cars into the country should face the music.
He said most of the people who brought in smuggled cars were deceived into doing so by people he described as ‘miscreants.’
He said, “Some miscreants corner potential buyers and persuade them to go to Cotonou and smuggle in cars instead of allowing them to buy from genuine dealers in Nigeria.
“If the government has said do not ‘fly’ vehicle and you go ahead to do so, then you should be made to pay whatever penalty comes with your disobedience.”
Nadiekwe urged the government to bring down the duty on cars, saying it was the reason people resorted to smuggling.