No fewer than 272 car marts have been shut by the Nigeria Customs Service during a raid on car marts suspected to be harbouring smuggled vehicles.
The raid, conducted by the Customs Comptroller General’s Strike Force and the Customs Federal Operations Units across the country, reportedly shut 162 outlets in Lagos and 110 outlets in the Federal Capital Territory, Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto and Kebbi.
The raid is reportedly part of a crackdown by the Customs service which started on September 29. Speaking on the crackdown, the spokesman for the NCS, Joseph Attah, said that the exercise was based on credible information that there were smuggled cars in the car sales outlets.
Attah made it known that the exercise was not to arrest anybody but to get people to pay the correct duty on the cars. This was because most of the affected cars either did not pay duty or paid an amount far below the required duty.
Reacting to the reoccurring smuggling of cars, the Comptroller General, NCS, Hameed Ali (retd), advised the car dealers to pay the proper duty and get back their cars. Those who did not pay or underpaid the proper duty were given what the NCS called the Demand Notice to effect payment.
However, reports have it that the Customs had imposed a penalty of 25% on impounded cars even after the car dealers must have paid the proper duty.
The increased smuggling of vehicles would lead to loss of revenue due to government and also affect the survival of the assembling plants in the country. This is why the Customs Service is clamping down on car smugglers. If this is allowed to continue, such a development may be inimical to national economic development.
The smuggling of cars can also cause law abiding car dealers in the country to shut down operations as a result of the illegal activities of some of the other importers.