Stakeholders react to customs directive on log book as mandatory requirement for vehicles clearance


Following a recent circular by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) insisting that production of log book will now be a mandatory requirement for the clearance of imported used vehicles from the nation’s seaports; stakeholders have been reacting to the new directive.

While some welcomed the development as the way to go given the way importers and their agents tried to circumvent payment of the actual duty on their imported used vehicles others see the development as dragging back the industry to the dark days.

Speaking on the matter, the founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam while wondering what was difficult with the directive added that log books of any vehicle was being deployed by the manufacturer of the vehicle.

He observed that log book of any vehicle could equally be sourced through online even as he insisted that a log book was the basis for duty calculations as far as customs responsibility was concerned.

According to him, “It gives you the age of the vehicle; it gives you the basis for rebate in terms of level of depreciation of each of the vehicles. So, if you are ready to pay appropriate customs duty, you should not be scared about log book. People only look at how to circumvent payment of appropriate duty. If you can buy a vehicle, ask for the log book. But even at that, there are other means customs can adopt to find out the particulars of any given vehicle. I don’t think it is a big thing if you have nothing to hide.”

Also speaking, the Managing Director of Goldlink Investment Limited, Sir Tony Oge Anakebe stated that the re-introduction of log book as a mandatory requirement for clearance of imported used vehicle in Nigeria was a good idea provided that the federal government has to first of all determine the age limit of vehicles allowed into the country before the introduction of the use of log book.

This he said will help to reduce the importation of rickety vehicles thereby making Nigeria a dumping ground for outdated vehicles.

“But if they have first of all considered the age limit of vehicles, then the log book will be a way of further sanitizing the importation of vehicles into the country.  If they peg it at seven or eight years or even ten years and then, log book is introduced, it will help in checking the quality of vehicles that come into the country. Log book is most essentially used in determining the age of vehicles”, he said.

Asked to recommend the age limit he would like the federal government to adopt as standard, Anakebe who is also a chieftain of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) said, “The best age limit should be ten years. If you get a 2010 vehicle, you can still use it for more than five years here. If I am asked to recommend, I will say let the government peg it at ten years because if you get a ten years vehicle and if you are lucky, you can get all the documents over there. If you are pegging it at seven years, you will discover that the cost vehicles will be out of the reach of the poor masses. Workers in most of these companies cannot afford to buy a seven year old vehicle.”

On his part, the Chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Tincan Island chapter, Mr. Ojo Peter Akintoye questioned the rationale behind the directive especially in this 21st century where the entire world was using vehicle VIN number to determine the vehicle particulars while wondering if the people drafting policies in Nigeria were open to the world and were aware of what obtained globally.

Akintoye recalled that even the officials of the Nigeria Customs Service were in the habit of using VIN number to retrieve the history of any vehicle they were not familiar with or not quite sure of the appropriate value on logging into the internet provided that the documents of the vehicle were handed over to them.

He further said, “Majority of the cars imported into the country are accidented vehicles, go the car park and see them for yourself. I can tell you that 85 percent of vehicles that enter Nigeria today are accidented vehicles and most of these vehicles that had accident even the owner’s whereabout is not known. Most of the cars do not even have keys and you are talking of log book. They imported some of these cars without keys; they will get here before they start programming keys for them. So, if our common technicians out there, through technology can programme a key for a car that didn’t come to this country with a key and the entire country is talking about log book, what are we saying? That was the language I heard thirty years ago when I was joining this industry.”

“We are talking of modernization and you are referring to a document of 1971, about 50 years ago, what are you modernizing? Is that not shame on us? Why are you referring to a notice of 1971? How many of the new generations of the customs officers were born in 1971 apart from the older ones that in the next five to six years will be out of service? Why don’t we talk about what is globally acceptable?” he queried.

Reminded that every manufacturer of any vehicle has a log book for the vehicle hence should not pose a problem for the importers, he retorted, “How many of the used cars are being bought from the manufacturers? The car that more than ten to fifteen people have used or don’t you know that they are selling fairly used vehicles abroad? Even in America, you can buy a used car, most of the cars they buy in auction, they use it in America. So, after using a car I bought in auction for three to five years, I sell the car again, somebody else bought it, maybe at the end of the day, the car may have been resold five times and it lands in Nigeria as Tokunbo, are you now saying that the last buyer should start tracing the six people that have used the car in order to get the log book?

“If Benin Republic cannot be talking about log book, we should try to cover our ineptitude a little bit. I cannot encourage what is not right.”

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