…calls for review of CEMA
The Vice President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto, has condemned the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) recent circular that every vehicle cleared through the Nigerian ports must present a Log-Book.
Speaking at a press briefing in Lagos, Wednesday, Farinto called for the withdrawal of the Circular, describing as obsolete the idea of log-books for vehicle clearance.
According to him, the world has evolved beyond that and now operates with VIN Number which serves as the vehicle’s finger number.
Recall the NCS had in a Circular dated April 23, 2021 and signed by the Deputy Comptroller General (Tariff &Trade), T.M. Isa, stated that Logbook is now a mandatory requirement for the clearance of used vehicles.
“I am directed to refer to the above subject matter and to convey that Log-Book is now a mandatory requirement for the importation of any used motor vehicle into the Country. This is in consonance with the provisions of Customs & Excise Notice No.30 of 6” December, 1971.
“Consequently, a grace period of 90 days, effective from the date of this Circular, is allowed to enable all importers who must have entered into trade transactions before this circular, process and clear their vehicles.
” For the purposes of emphasis, importation of used motor vehicles requires the production of vehicle log-book, in addition to other clearance documents after the grace period,” the letter read in part.
Farinto in a swift reaction called on the NCS to withdraw the letter on the ground that it outdated, against international best practices and would create a leeway for corruption
He explained that every vehicle carries its VIN number even if it is the same brand and model, while also stressing that 70 per cent of vehicles coming with log-book currently do not come in understandable languages and wondered how the freight forwarders would read and interpret the message.
Continuing the Freight Forwarder stated that what the NCS is doing is taking us backward to analogue; back to Stone Age adding that it is against international best practices.
Log-Book, he said, was used last about 1993 and 1994 and was scrapped due to innovation but Customs brought it up now because they are not informed as it still operates with the 1971 CEMA Law which he said should be reviewed.
He noted that the issue of Log-Book was outdated as most Nigeria imports are now from China, America and India no longer Europe where Log-Book emanated from.
His words: “I said no to the directive of Deputy Comptroller General (DCG) of Customs for Tariff and Trade, that it is mandatory for any vehicle that must be cleared at the Nation’s ports to have logbook, because it looks as if the Management of Customs is taking us backward, and we are not in medieval period.
“I know that the relevant section of the Law quoted by the DCG was enacted in 1971 and it says if you are going to clear any vehicle in seaport, you must have what is called a logbook.
“The relevance of having the logbook then was to ascertain the model of the vehicle and year of manufacture.
“However, over the years in Customs operations viz aviz; WCO procedure, a lot of things have been put in place to ascertain the manufacturer, the year of manufacture and the body of the vehicle and that thing is called VIN number or Title of the vehicle.
“70 per cent of the logbook are not even written in English because they actually emanate from vehicles that are coming from Europe.
“If you recollect, in few weeks back, I said Customs is encouraging corruption because we do not have uniform tariff on imported vehicles. And that necessitated this circular on logbook. I still want to say that Customs is not getting it right.
“One of the seven key principles of Customs harmonisation, which was given to them by the former Comptroller General of Customs, Abdullahi Dikko, is, ‘if you are confused, consult your colleagues.’
“Ordinarily, what this DCG who issued the circular on the logbook should have done was to consult his colleagues to look at what is in line with the international best practice.
“If the WCO hears that Nigeria Customs Service is asking for logbook in this 21st century, it would become a laughing matter. We do not want Nigeria to be a laughing stock in the comity of nations.
“We advise Customs to look inward to withdraw the circular and advise itself so that there would be a better sense of direction.
“The issue of logbook is an outdated thing, which is no more in practice around the world, 70 per cent of the logbook are in European language, which could be in German or Dutch language.
“Logbook actually emanated when Nigeria was doing importation through European countries. Now importation from Nigeria is beyond European nations. Nigeria now imports from China, America and India.”
He pointed out that once this circular is released, in the next 90 days Customs officers would start asking for a logbook or ‘settle’ if you do not have it and like that corruption would creep in and fake logbooks would be generated by people.
Farinto added that ANLCA as a body was on the process of writing an official memo for the withdrawal of the circular while also calling on the Senate Committee on Customs to look into the matter.
Dr. Kayode Farinto, Vice President ANLCA