The Comptroller General of Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, Hameed Ali, has said that most vehicles imported into the country were rickety.
Mr Ali disclosed this while appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Customs, to defend the NCS 2021 budget, on Tuesday, in Abuja.
He said that such vehicles moved at 200 meters per hour and often died or stopped on the road, adding that the time had come when only road-worthy vehicles would be allowed with the required duties paid to the country.
Mr Ali said it was time to reduce the number of used vehicles that were being brought into the country, stressing that the NCS’ consideration was to only have road-worthy vehicles coming into the country.
“We hope our automotive industry will work in order to start reducing the number of used vehicles in the country,” he said.
The CGC also decried the activities of smugglers with a penchant for following unapproved routes, adding that the NCS was working with the Republic of Benin to ensure that goods meant for Nigeria followed approved routes.
He also said that the NCS would not be able to stop arms smuggling on its own, rather, the service needed the support of all, adding that the NCS decided to be going public on the smugglers it was prosecuting because the service was accused of not prosecuting smugglers.
“These smugglers are in our community, we must fight them together,” he said.
On the issue of scanners to be installed to curtail the activities of smugglers, Ali disclosed that the Ministry of Finance had purchased three scanners to be deployed to the nation’s borders, in addition to a pledge by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to provide more scanners that would be deployed at the nation’s air, sea and land borders.
The CGC said that 135 scanners would be deployed at the nation’s sea, air and land borders, explaining that they may help in eliminating the influx and proliferation of firearms into the country.
Rep Ibrahim Bukar, (APC-Borno), and a member of the committee, however, disagreed with the CGC on used vehicles, stating that most vehicles brought into Nigeria were not rickety as stated.
He said that may have become rickety because they got bad on the road due to the wear and tear nature of the vehicles.
According to him, not many Nigerians could afford to buy new vehicles, because they were very expensive, so the fairly used vehicles should be allowed to come in after paying the prescribed duty.
Rep Leke Abejide, the chairman of the committee, said that the committee would meet with the CBN Governor, the Minister of Finance and the CGC, to proffer solutions to the issue of scanners, which had been unnecessarily delayed.
He called for the recruitment of more hands into the service, in order to police the nation’s borders, adding that the needed equipment must be procured to enable the NCS to do its work diligently.
Mr Abejide lamented the level of insecurity in the country, which he ascribed to the proliferation of firearms as a result of the porosity of the nation’s borders.
The News Agency of Nigeria, NAB, reports that N1.679 trillion was approved at the committee level for the 2021 budget of the service.