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Govt urged to end Customs’ roadblocks


Nigerian-CustomsTHERE has been an upsurge in the rate at which Customs officials harass motorists and impound their vehicles on the nation’s highways. They hide under the pretext that these motorists, most of them buyers of new and fairly used vehicles, do not pay correct duties and levies at the nation’s ports during clearing.

Even those who purchase their vehicles from reputable dealerships are also harassed and sometimes asked to prove that the dealerships pay appropriate duties and levies, a proposition many find very disturbing.

“The dealerships give you a receipt and papers that would enable you register the vehicle,” said Emeka Mbadunuju, a worker in one of the oil multinational companies in Lagos, who said he was pulled over on the Lagos-Benin highway by men of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), while travelling with his family to the east.

“They asked me to go to Lagos and get the papers from the dealer, a reputable one for that matter. The car is new and they know the showroom where I bought it. If they have any issue about payment of customs duties, they should take it up the dealer.”

“They should go to the border posts and the various foot paths that they know very well to stop smugglers instead of harassing people who legitimately buy their vehicles inside the cities,” said Omobolanle Sobowale, another victim of the high-handedness of officers and men of the NCS along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

The Customs officials are usually stationed at the Lagos old toll gate, between Mowe and Sagamu interchange; Ibadan toll gate, Ijebu Ode old Toll Gate along Sagamu-Benin Expressway, Sagamu-Benin Expressway, old toll gate in Benin City, Agbor, Delta State, and Akure-Ilesaha-Ibilo-Okene-Lokoja axis. They also roam along the Katsina-Kano-Jigawa axis.

Stranded motorists, who spoke to The Guardian, have unanimously urged the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd), to take a cue from the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, who ordered his men to dismantle road blocks across the country because he recognized these points as centers of corruption.

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