The Nigeria Customs Service has wielded the big stick over the debtor private jet owners in the country by ordering the grounding of their cruise machines.
In a letter written by the Comptroller-General of the Service, Col(rtd) Hameed Ali dated November 2nd, 2021, and dispatched to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Customs boss asked the three aviation agencies to stop the operations of the affected private jets for refusing to pay over N30bn import duties.
Ali also asked the three agencies to indefinitely deny the private jets administrative and operational flight clearances until they offset their debts.
He stated that the service decided to ground the operations of the affected private jets after it was discovered that the import duties on the carriers have not been paid since 2006.
However, some of the private jet owners said to include pastors, business Moguls, and others, protested the Customs’ directive, arguing they cannot pay import duties on the planes because the jets are under lease payments.
The Customs High command was said to have berated the jet owners for allegedly fraudulently exporting their jets under questionable documentation processes and refusing to pay import duties in the past 10 years.
The letter reads: “The Federal Government in its drive for enhanced revenue has mandated the Nigeria Customs Service to immediately recover from defaulting private aircraft owners the required statutory import duties on their imported aircraft.
“You may wish to recall the verification exercise conducted by the NCS, initially scheduled for a 14 day period, but magnanimously extended over a 60-day period from 7th June through 6 August 2021, following a World Press Conference held on 31st May 2021.
” The outcome of the aforementioned verification exercise is a compilation of all private aircraft imported into the country without payment of statutory import duty.
“The Nigeria Custom Service, in line with its statutory functions, is empowered by Part 111 Sections 27, 35, 37, 45,46, 47, 52, 56,63 & 64; Part XI Sections 144, 145, 155, 160, 161& 164 and Part XII Sections 167, 168, 169, 173 & 174 of the Customs and Excise Management Act.
“In this regard, therefore, your full cooperation is being solicited to ensure the success of this initiative and that all such private aircraft owners or representatives are denied administrative and operational flight clearances indefinitely until an NCS issued Aircraft Clearance Certificate is procured and presented to your organisation as proof of compliance.
“For the avoidance of doubt, ALL aircraft operated in accordance with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s regulation for the issuance of Permit for Non-Commercial Flight and those issued with Flight Operations Clearance Certificate and Maintenance Clearance Certificate accordingly are affected by this directive.
“Please find attached the list of all verified aircraft and indeed others of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s register, which may not have come forward for your record and necessary action.
“Strict compliance with this directive is to be ensured. Please accept the assurances of my highest regards and esteem as always.”
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” This video depicts a half-clad individual recording himself while claiming to have arrested trucks carrying premium motor spirit across the border as an officer of Nigeria Customs Service.
“The facts are as follows; the person in the video is indeed an officer of Nigeria Customs Service, and he is currently attached to the Federal Operations Unit Zone D in Adamawa.
” It is important to note that 55 kilometers separate this location from the nearest border.
“Between the place where this incident occurred and the border, there are fully operational petrol stations.
” As vehicles in transit, they are considered still to be well within city limits and therefore can neither be accused of nor arrested for transporting goods across the border.
“All our officers are compelled by a strict dress code to not only be in uniform while on duty, but to adorn their name tags for easy identification by members of the public.
” Indeed, his actions led to his immediate withdrawal by the Controller Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘D’, who instructed his detention pending medical evaluation.
“The NCS seriously frowns at any action that is inimical to the economic well-being of our nation.
“The levels of checks and counter-checks created as part of the NCS strategic enforcement initiative have made it extremely difficult for breaches to occur.
“Nigeria Customs Service wants to assure members of the public of the commitment of its officers and men to securing our borders.
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