The Nigerian Customs Service (NSC) has come under heavy condemnation over its indiscriminate sealing of car shops in recent times.
Prominent among the concerned persons are the association of car dealers in Lagos State as well as the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Smarting from a recent agreement, the car dealers are asking the NCS to immediately open their sealed car marts and pay them N10bn compensation within 30 days or face a legal action.
It would be recalled that NCS had on September 29 commenced the sealing off of car marts across the nation on suspicion that the outlets had smuggled vehicles.
The car dealers, who described the action in September as illegal, made the N10bn demand in a pre-action letter written to the Comptroller General of customs by their lawyer, Monday Ubani.
The letter, copies of which were sent to the Senate President, Speaker of House of Representatives and the Attorney General of the Federation, read, “We must state here with all sense of responsibility and patriotism that the action of the Nigeria Customs officers in this regard is a demonstration of gross irresponsibility, unprecedented impunity and abuse of power.
“Though the Nigeria Customs and Excise Management Act gives you the power to examine, mark, seal and take account of any goods; in this case, you did not examine, mark, seal and take account of the particular vehicles identified as not being properly cleared, but rather sealed the entire premises without any form of examination or inspection of papers.
“Take notice, therefore, that you have 14 days from the day you receive this letter to unseal all our clients members’ business premises to enable them carry out their lawful businesses as Nigerian citizens.”
It added, “Take further notice that you have a period of 30 days from the date you receive this letter to pay a compensation of N10bn to our clients for the severe hardship, suffering, embarrassment, loss of business, physical, mental and psychological torture and trauma your arbitrary, lawless and inconsiderate action has caused our clients and their families, failing which our client shall be left with no other option but to seek redress through a competent court of law.”
Also, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry equally criticized the actions of the NCS, calling for an independent dispute resolution framework.
According to its Director General, Muda Yusuf, “Investors should not be treated as culpable when infractions have not been proven against them. Verification processes should be done with minimal disruptions to the operations of companies.”