December 5, 2022

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Finance Minister’s comment on influx of smuggled, stolen vehicles into Nigeria an indictment on Customs, says group

APPFLON tasks newly elected CRFFN governing board members on quality representation

Frank Ogunojemite

The Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), has said that a recent revelation by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, that 45 percent of the vehicles that enter the country are smuggled annually and 40 percent of them stolen is an indictment on the Nigeria Customs Service and other security personnel at the border stations.

This is just as the group criticized the Minister over her open utterances, describing it as a dazing blow on the country’s image.

President of APFFLON, Frank Ogunojemite, gave the reaction in a statement on Sunday in Lagos.

Recall that the Minister had at a sensitization seminar on National Vehicle Registry (VERG) policy in Abuja stated that 40 percent of vehicles that find their way into Nigeria were stolen vehicles.

The minister quoted figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) stating that 45 percent of vehicles that entered the country annually were smuggled vehicles; thus, evading duty payments.

She added that study found that Nigeria was the hub of stolen vehicles pointing out that vehicles in the country were usually unregistered making it difficult for them to be traced within its shores.

Ogunojemite in reaction said that the minister crossed the line by ‘blatantly pummeling the country’s image’; accusing her of recklessness.

“The minister has by her unpatriotic utterance against a country that gave her a rare opportunity to serve proven that the country’s image is not only being battered by perpetrators of various crimes but also by those de-marketing it by way of words as the minister just did recently.

“In a time of alarming challenges stemming from numerous sectors and zones, some of us are amazed that highly placed political office holders and public officials could at one time or the other come up with unprintable statements that are capable of plunging further the country’s image especially at a time Nigerian citizen in diaspora are being treated like beasts of no nation,” he said.

Ogunojemite cautioned political office holders who make unguided statements, saying that representatives of government are expected to carefully choose their words at all fora to avoid embarrassing the country.

“We are very much disappointed at the minister’s unguided utterance, we must unequivocally state here that she misrepresented the country. No representative of any country in the world can openly cast his or her country in such a bad light; it was a total betrayal and a disservice to the entire nation for even making an open reference to such incriminating case study. Not only that, her utterance was a serious indictment on Customs and other security personnel at border stations. In fact, it was an indictment on the entire country as it is now seen as a haven for stolen and smuggled vehicles.

“In as much as we appreciate all the technicalities listed as well as professional security measures intended to curb vehicle thefts and smuggling, we strongly frown at the Minister’s failure to rightly manage the information available to her to the county’s detriment.

“APFFLON hereby demand that the Minister of Finance apologize to Nigerians for openly de-marketing the country following her reckless utterance; she should tender an unreserved apology to Nigerians for battering her image in such a manner without recourse to the strategic position she occupies,” he said.