The Nigeria Customs Service on Tuesday said it had impounded exotic bulletproof vehicles, which were imported into the country without payment of duties.
The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), stated this while addressing journalists in Abuja on the seizure of the vehicles.
He said 18 suspected smuggled vehicles were seized from a car dealer, Kefiano Motors Limited, in Abuja.
Out of the 18 vehicles, Ali stated that 13 were bulletproof and did not have the mandatory end-user certificate, which is usually issued by the Office of the National Security Adviser.
He said the least of the cars was valued at N70m, while the most expensive one was estimated at N280m.
He gave the breakdown of the 18 vehicles as two Range Rover, one Rolls Royce, four Lexus, three G-Wagon, two Prado, one Lincoln Navigator, one Infinity, one Mercedes Benz 4matic, two Toyota Sequoia and one Toyota Camry.
Ali said with the 18 impounded vehicles, the service had now confiscated a total of 283 vehicles in the last two months.
Giving a breakdown of the seizures, the Customs boss said 135 vehicles were seized from Lagos, 93 from Kaduna and 37 from Port Harcourt.
He noted, “On Saturday, 16th of September, 2017, based on credible information, the detachment of the Compliance Team visited Kefiano Motors Limited in the Central Business Area, Abuja and discovered 18 suspected smuggled exotic vehicles that were displayed for sale.
“Beyond the issue of non-payment of customs duty, 13 of these vehicles are bulletproof. These vehicles require clearance from the Office of the National Security Adviser 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.”
He added that the action of the Customs was in line with Sections 147 and 158 of the Customs and Excise Management Act, which empowers the agency to search any premises suspected of having smuggled goods without obtaining a court warrant.
He said that the Customs would step up its enforcement activities by invoking Section 3 of its Act, which deals with the possession of smuggled items.
Ali lamented that 90 per cent of imported vehicles were being smuggled into the country, noting that the time had come for the service to begin a clampdown on those behind smuggling.
He said, “Let it be known that being in possession of smuggled items is an offence punishable under Section 3 of Customs and Excise (Special Penal and Other provisions) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
“In the last two months, the service has stepped up its implementation of the Federal Government’s ban on importation of vehicles through land borders. This re-invigorated anti-smuggling activities have yielded positive results.”
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