October 2, 2022

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Clearing agent seeks review of Customs law, says vehicle log book obsolete

Vice President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Kayode Farinto, has kicked against the re-introduction of vehicle log book by the Nigeria Customs Service as a mandatory requirement for clearance of used vehicles imported into the country, describing the new requirement as obsolete.

A vehicle log book is a document that racks the taxation history of a vehicle including year of manufacture. The use of log books thrived up to the year 1994 before it was scrapped.

The NCS had in a circular number NCS/T&T/DCG/HQ/S.52/VOL. III dated 23 April 2021 mandated the use of vehicle log book, stating that the new requirement is “in consonance with the provisions of Customs & Excise Notice No. 30 of 6th December, 1971”.

The circular, signed by the Deputy Comptroller-General Tariff and Trade, T.M. Isa, gave a grace period of 90 days, “to enable all importers who must have entered into trade transactions before this circular, process and clear their vehicles.”

Addressing journalists in Lagos on Wednesday, Farinto, wondered why Customs after automating most of its processing would suddenly come up with an archaic law dated as far back as 1971 in the 21st century.

He noted that 99 percent of vehicles imported into the country no longer have log books but Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) with which Customs can track the history of any vehicle.

Farinto who criticised Customs for issuing the circular without due consultation with stakeholders warned that the circular if not withdrawn will lead to falsification of log books and encourage corruption among officers at the port.

 “How can Customs just bring a law that is over 50 years saying people should go and generate log books that do not exist again?  It is very shameful for any trained, seasoned Customs officer to be asking for log book in 21st century because it is taking us back to the medieval period not even now that Customs has automated most of its system. It is not going to help customs operations.

“This may lead to a situation where people will start producing fake log books because the officers on the field will insist on you having a log book and it is going to invariably encourage corruption.

 “What is the importance of the log book? It is to ascertain the actual year of manufacture of vehicle for collection of duty. That is why we are clamouring to have a uniform value for vehicles. If you go to Ghana and input your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) number, it tells you the duty you are to pay and nobody disturbs you. This is what the Nigeria Customs Service should emulate and not take us back to the analogue era because we are moving forward.

“The innovation now is either you ask for the VIN number or the title of the vehicle. In the title of every vehicle, it tells you everything whether there was an accident on the vehicle, even the last owners and not asking for log book because the log book is no more in vogue,”he said.

Frainto called on the National Assembly to expedite action in the amendment of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), to reflect current realities in line with International best practices.

“Nigeria Customs Service is a member of WCO. If we write now to WCO that our Customs is asking for log book, Nigeria becomes a laughing stock. So we want this circular withdrawn and we are calling on the Senate Committee on Customs and Excise to look inward and look at the operation of customs and expedite the passage of the amendment of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) so that it will be in line with international best practice,” he said.