The Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) has condemned the clampdown on car shops suspected to be harbouring smuggled vehicles by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).
In a statement, the LCCI Director-General, Muda Yusuf, condemned the act, saying that the manner in which the companies were closed down for three weeks was intimidating.
He said that some of the dealers whose companies were shut down are actually leaders in the industry, who represent reputable global brands and contribute to tax and customs revenue in the country.
“There is nothing wrong with an audit exercise; what is not right is the ominous and intimidating manner the exercise was carried out. The premises of the companies were sealed for about three weeks, paralysing their entire operations. We believe that the audit exercise could still be carried out without the sealing up of the business premises of the companies for that length of time,” he said.
Yusuf stated that the sudden shutdown of the car shops has profound consequences on the businesses, some of which include reputational cost, disruption of the businesses transactions and risk to international and domestic business relations resulting from perception problems created by the sealing up of business premises, especially for dealers of leading global automobile brands.
He also said that it could cause embarrassment to the management and shareholders of the companies affected as it would signal negativity to investors.
The LCCI DG went on to emphasize that hostile regulatory actions are bad for the quest for job creation and poverty reduction. He urged the regulatory and enforcement agencies to take proper caution in their interactions with investors in the economy as they are critical stakeholders creating jobs, generating revenue, and stabilizing the social environment through the engagement of citizens.
Recall that the NCS started a crackdown on car stores on September 29 and shut down 272 car marts suspected to be harbouring smuggled vehicles.
The raid, which was conducted by the Customs Comptroller General’s Strike Force and the Customs Federal Operations Units across the country, saw the shutdown of 162 outlets in Lagos and 110 outlets in the Federal Capital Territory, Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto and Kebbi.