Ali defies Senate, releases numbers for vehicle duty verification

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Despite the face-off with the Senate over the controversial vehicle duty verification exercise, Comptroller-General of Customs, retired Col. Hameed Ali on Tuesday, March 21 announced a code number for vehicle clearance verification.

With this decision, it is obvious that the Customs is determined to implement the new policy on old vehicles duty verification despite the public outcry that greeted the policy and the advice from the Senate that the idea be put on hold.

It would be recalled that the senate had asked the Nigerian Customs Service to put on hold its proposed plan to collect duties on all vehicles in the country, including old ones.

The senate noted that it was ideal that Customs dropped the move until it’s Comptroller-General, Hameed Ali appeared before it, to explain the idea behind the collection of the old duties.

In a motion moved by the Deputy Senate Majority Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah and seconded by Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West), the Lawmakers said, it was a tough task for people to start searching for zonal offices of areas where their cars were bought several years before.

Na’Allah noted that, in cases where the cars were bought from dealers, it was unfair to make people suffer for the mistakes of such dealers if the proper custom duties were not paid initially.

While announcing the code, Ali told stakeholders that the Customs has taken steps to ensure that Nigerians, who wanted to verify the authenticity of their customs duty clearance, could do so at the comfort of their homes with the use of their mobile phones.

“For effective and easy customs duty clearance verification, you can dial or send SMS to these numbers 094621597 with your vehicle C-number, the year you paid the duty and the port or location where the vehicle came through into the country. Immediately all that information is given, just in five minutes you will get a response whether your vehicle duty clearance is genuine or not,’’ Ali said.

He said the essence of the numbers was to ensure stress free verification, to motor dealers and innocent Nigerian vehicle owners.

According to him, for easy traffic flow, the last number which is 7 in the digits 094621597 can be either changed to 8 or 9, to get response faster with different customs personnel on duty at every point in time.

Ali said that Nigerians misunderstood customs intention regarding duty payment on old vehicles, adding that the excise was actually meant for motor dealers.

He added that customs later decided to give innocent private vehicle owners, who after verification, might find out that their vehicles had no genuine duty clearance to take advantage of the 60 per cent rebate.

The Nigeria Customs had in a statement from its Acting Public Relations Officer, Joseph Atta, told owners of vehicles, who did not pay Customs duty to do so between March 13 and April 12.

 

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