Car dealers outlets across Lagos State, including Coscharis, Globe Motors, Stallion Motors, Elizade Motors and Westar Associates, were shut down yesterday by officers of the Nigeria Customs service, NCS, in search of cars that were smuggled through the land borders.
The dealers, who were unanimous in their condemnation of the clampdown by the Nigeria Customs, wondered why they only focused on the southern part of Nigeria when smugglers, who don’t contribute anything to the economy, are having a field day in the northern part of the country.
A spokesperson for the Coscharis Group said:
“The action of the Nigeria Customs will run counterproductive to the Federal Government’s foreign investment drive.”
“We don’t understand what is happening yet, but we cooperate with all agencies of government and if the NCS needs any information about our business, they ought to ask instead of sealing our showrooms, and thereafter invites us to a meeting.”
“They should understand the implications of shutting down our facilities because an unnamed dealership allegedly smuggled in vehicles.”
An Ikeja-based auto dealer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also added that the Nigeria Customs should be aware Nigeria is not under a military regime where businesses are shut down without notice.
“We are not smugglers, we bring in our cars through the ports and pay a huge amount of money. To clear the average car now like Toyota Corrola, it is over ₦3 million. To clear a Toyota Prado, it is over ₦9 million, a Land Cruiser is over ₦15 million, a Lexus is ₦18 million while the G-Wagon is cleared at ₦21 million.”
“In my auto garage, I have 70 cars and I pay an average of ₦10 million per car, that is ₦700 million. We add value to the economy. We need to be treated with respect in this economy.”
Another major dealer, whose car outlets was also sealed, alleged that the harassment by the Nigeria Customs Service has continued for about five years:
“Whereas nothing of sort happens to dealers in the North.”
“All the car dealers in the north never get harassed or checked. For your information, cars in the North come through the Niger Republic without paying duty. Agencies of government should do their work but not one-sided or at the detriment of the economy.”
Chairman of Globe Motors, Mr. Willie Anumudu, said he was surprised by what the Nigeria Customs did because they (NCS) usually come to take inventory and check chassis numbers.
“Tomorrow (today) is holiday, but on Wednesday, after a meeting with them, we will have a clearer view of what is happening”