Although the Controller,Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘C’ Owerri, Comptroller Kayode Olusemire penultimate week declined to confirm worries that increased importation of armoured vehicles into the country has any link with the approaching general elections in February 2019, he nonetheless said their importations portend various kinds of national security risks.
This is even as he said Customs duty is to curtail the security risks associated with importations of controlled items without End-Users Certificate, and explained that the End-User Certificate legally and officially enables government security agencies to be able to track such importations and their uses, in order to forestall their ending up in the wrong hands.
Items listed therein includes dangerous items such as explosives, chemicals, arms, armoured vehicles or what is commonly known as bullet proof vehicles, etc; and for which the importer or his agent is expected to seek and secure its End-User Certificate.
At the briefing in Government Warehouse Benin City, Olusimire said his operatives has seized six armoured vehicles over the past one month, noting the Customs will continue with its dragnet on the illegal importations of such items because of both its economic and security implications.
He charged prospective importers to endeavour to be guided by the Nigeria Custom Import Prohibition List which showcases an array of controlled imports for which permits must be sought and gotten before their importations.
He said, “In the past four months, we have brought you here to showcase seizures made by our officers. We are here again but not so much to showcase seizures but to appeal to Nigerians to strive to do the right thing. Why is it that every time, we have people travel abroad to buy exotic cars, cars that are worth millions of naira, and they prefer not to pay duty on them? And we are also having other importations that have potential security risk.
“Here we have bullet proof Land Cruiser, no document, smuggled into the country with DPV of N95million. This is another one here, Range Rover with DPV of N81million, these are vehicles that are controlled, they are supposed to obtain End-User-Certificate to make it possible to trace, so that they do not fall into evil hands.”
Asked if the increasing rate of the importation of armoured vehicles could be linked to the approaching elections, he replied, “I don’t know, what I know is that it is the duty of Customs to ensure that no bullet proof vehicles without importation permit is allowed to come in. The importer is supposed to go the National Security Adviser to request for End-User Certificate. If he does not have the End-User Certificate, he cannot import a bullet proof car. Such vehicles have special security features, its users must be known to government security agencies so that government is able to track their uses, so that they don’t get into wrong and evil hands”, adding:
“Importers should please get necessary information on cars they wish to buy from the Customs website. They can also visit any customs formation nationwide, where you can get any information on import from Customs Help Desks.”