The Nigerian Automobile Association has alleged that there are two different regimes of duties being collected from them by the Nigeria Customs Service, a situation it says is against the rules of the World Trade Organisation.
The group, in a statement on Wednesday, signed by its Secretary, Ademola Moshood, said this was discovered during one of the meetings between car dealers and the Customs held to address the allegations of smuggling levelled against them.
It said the two regimes of duties and the system of documentation were allowing corruption to thrive as well as causing distress to buyers of new vehicles in the country.
The association recalled that on September 29 this year, members of the Comptroller-General of the Customs’ strike force and officers attached to the Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’, Ikeja, Lagos stormed the Berger auto market and other major car dealers’ premises in Lagos in search of smuggled vehicles and sealed the auto markets.
It said this led to an engagement between some Customs officials and car dealers in the state.
“Subsequent meetings with the dealerships revealed that the government’s agency had a system of documentation and two regimes of duties that create a fertile environment for corruption to thrive within its fold to the distress of buyers of new vehicles in the country,” it said.
“The Customs duty system is whimsical because it is not based on any known indices and certainly not based on the World Trade Organisation’s, which applies only duties determined as Freight on Board,” it said.
The group stated that the price of a product sold by a manufacturer to a Nigerian buyer or any other country’s importer, also called FOB, was universal to every buyer of goods from the same manufacturer and could be used to calculate local duties in the destination country.
It said if the quoted cost of the FOB was different, it must have been on account of accessories in the vehicles.
It said dealers, who met with Customs officials after the September 29 shutdown, were shocked to find out that there were two sets of FOB in two different documents.
It explained that one of the documents, entitled ‘National Valuation Database for Imported Motor Vehicles 2014-2019’ was believed to be baseless, as the dealers claimed it was contrived based on the whim and caprice of the NCS.
Stories by Chinedu Wosu
‘No Plans To Increase Fare From PH To Bonny’
Ahead of this year’s Christmas, boat drivers under the umbrella of Bonny Maritime Transport Association (BMTA) say there is no plan to increase transport fare from Port Harcourt to Bonny Island.
The body said the fare from Port Harcourt to Bonny remains N2,200 per passenger plying the route.
Speaking with The Tide on Tuesday through a telephone interview, a staff of BMTA, Port Harcourt branch, Chief Kim’s George, said all boat drivers were advised not to hike fare from Port Harcourt to Bonny, but to maintain the normal N 2,200 per head.
He lauded the state government for the deployment of three gunboats to Bonny routes to curb piracy.
George also thanked the Nigerian Navy and the Marine Police for the regular patrol of the Bonny waterways to ensure safety of lives and property.
On the issue of life vest, the boat driver said all passengers to Bonny now wear life jackets for safety.
“Passengers now comply with the wearing of life jackets while on board of a speed boat to Bonny.
“Bonny waterways is now safe and secure for sea travelers, three gunboats now patrol the channels and creeks, the Navy and the marine police are working tirelessly to reduce crimes on the waterways,” he said.
Rivers Port Is Safe For Investors
The Federal House of Representatives Committee on Ports and Harbours says the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Rivers Port Complex, Port Harcourt, is safe and secure for investors to do business .Chairman of the Committee, Hon Datti Garaba Muhammad, stated this in Port Harcourt last Tuesday during an interactive session with the management of the port at its Basket House complex.
The House Committee was in the port for a familiarisation visit and oversight function of the port and its terminal operators.
Muhammad noted that Rivers Port Complex was booming with maritime activities, thereby accruing high revenue to the Federal Government.
He said that for the past six months, there was no longer the issue of pirate attacks on sea in the port complex.
“ Rivers Port Complex is now safer for investors to do business as there is no longer attack on vessels for over six months now,” he said.
The Chairman noted that the improved security networks in the port had increased container traffic and attracted more ship owners and importers to the port.
He told the management of the port led by its Port Manager, Engr. Yunusa Ibrahim Anji, that the Federal Government was working tirelessly to revamp the port to attract more investors.
The chairman said that its oversight functions include overseeing the NPA and the terminal operators doing business in the various ports across the nation.
He said: “We are here to oversee the port, we have visited NPA headquarters, Tin Can Island, Apapa Port, Onne Port and some terminal operators to ascertain the level of compliance”.
On lack of tugboats for the port to carry out effective operations, the committee said the Federal Government would look into the absence of such boats and approve the purchase of tugboats to enhance the port operations.
Muhammad said the committee wanted Rivers Port to be revamped and bounce back to maritime activities as it is done in the past.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Port Manager, Rivers Port Complex, Engr. Yunusa Ibrahim Anji, said that container traffic had improved in the port compared to 2018 port statistics.
The manager said in 2019, its traffic was 1870,379 while in 2018, its level of traffic was 1723,169.
He told the committee that since his assumption, there has been no problem of attacks on sea going vessels in the ports.
On the security, the manager said the port secured the service of the Nigerian Navy and the marine police to patrol the port waterways to curb any act of insecurity within the complex.
He mentioned lack of tugboats, pilot cutters, accommodation for the pilots and legal issue with BUA terminal operators as some of challenges at the port.
By: Chinedu Wosu
Pirates Kidnap 19 Seafarers Off Bonny Island
No fewer than 19 seafarers working as crew members of a tanker vessel have been kidnapped by suspected sea pirates off Bonny Island.
The seafarers were abducted in a tanker identified as Nave Constellation, about 100 nautical miles off Bonny Island.
A statement made available to The Tide by Dryad Global said the attack occurred 26nm South East of the Egina terminal while the ship was underway on Tuesday.
Eighteen of the crew members abducted were Indian nationals, one is a Turkish, while seven other crew members are still on board the tanker, the statement said.
Navios, which is the owner of the ship and Anglo-Eastern Tanker Management (Hong Kong), which is the vessel’s technical manager, have both confirmed the incident.
The Hong Kong-flagged crude oil tanker had departed Bonny Offshore Terminal in fully laden condition when it was boarded by armed men late on the night of December 3rd.
“The criminal gang departed the vessel taking 19 of those onboard with them as hostage; 18 Indian nationals and one Turkish national. Seven seafarers remained on board and were instructed to take the tanker to a safe position to await the arrival of a security vessel and other support craft. There was no pollution or damage to the vessel.
“Navios as owners and Anglo Eastern as technical and crew managers’s prime concern is the safety and early return of the 19 persons taken by the pirate gang. All the appropriate authorities, including the Flag State, have been alerted and are responding and all the necessary action is being taken to secure their wellbeing and early release,” the two companies said in a statement.
The companies said the families of those taken by the pirates are being kept fully informed of the developing situation.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB), Piracy Reporting Centre, has also confirmed the attack on the tanker.
“Nineteen crew were identified as missing. The vessel owners notified the Nigerian Navy and MRCC for assistance.
Remaining crew sailed a tanker to a safe area,” the IMB said.
This is the 6th maritime security incident and the fourth kidnapping incident to occur within 30nm of the South Eastern boundary of the Nigerian EEZ within 2019.
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