Vehicles importation: Customs accuse valuation officers of compromise

By Anozie Egole

The Nigeria Customs Service has accused valuation officers on imported vehicles at the various commands of not complying with the procedure for examination, valuation, and release of imported used cars.

This was contained in a circular titled, ‘Re Conduct of examination and release of used vehicles’ signed by the Assistant Comptroller General, Tariff and Trade, C.K Niagwan, dated August 24, sighted by The PUNCH on Sunday.

In the circular, the service said that imported vehicles are supposed to be referred to valuation seats to verify the trim of the imported vehicle and assign the appropriate value, instead of applying the base value.

The circular read in part, “It has been observed with great concern that examination and valuation officers are not complying with the procedure for examination, valuation and release of used vehicles. For the avoidance of doubt, all used vehicles after examination are to be referred to the valuation seat to verify the trim of the imported vehicle and assign the appropriate value, instead of applying the base value. Pursuant to the above, you are requested to re-orient all examination and valuation officers of this procedure to prevent further loss of revenue. Ensure strict compliance”

However reacting to this, licensed customs agents have said that the new process will lead to delays in the clearance of imported vehicles.

The youth leader of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, Remilekun Sikiru, said that the Vehicles Identification Number for clearing imported vehicles is supposed to take care of all these things.

Remilekun who is the Chief Executive Officer of Sikremstar Logistics Limited, said, that with this new process clearing of imported used cars would now take longer time.

“The normal VIN process is designed to have all the artificial intelligence including the trim, engine capacity, and the rest but in Nigeria, the reverse is the case. This new process is like taking or adopting back the old method of clearance which I believe is against the process of trade facilitation. And definitely, by doing this process, jobs will take an extra 2-3 days of processing and it will indeed engage human interference and give room for extortion, it will also accrue a lot of demurrage, now the question is who is going to pay the demurrage? Why don’t we do the right thing by inputting all these chassis into the VIN valuation as promised to us? We have been clamoring for this for a very long time now. There is a significant drop in importation up to 70 per cent, and a lot of freight forwarders stopped coming to work most especially the youths as a result of harsh policies by the government. NCS should take a proper review on this as this will cause more harm to the process of trade facilitation.

Also speaking, a chieftain of ANLCA, Babatunde Mukaila, said, “We believe is it another ploy by customs to rubbish the VIN platform. If your valuation officers are not doing the right thing then you let them know and then wipe them back to line instead of taking us back to Egypt and we are not going to take it. We hope with this reaction Customs is going to have a rethink because we are not going to go back to Egypt with their manual system.” He concluded.

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