BY ESTHER OLUKU

A clearing agent and chieftain of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto, has faulted the directive of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) requiring log books for imported used vehicles as current models of cars have replaced the log book system with the vein Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

Farinto who stated this on Wednesday during a press briefing at his office in Lagos told journalists that the Log-Book system of ascertaining the model and history of vehicles was applicable when vehicles were imported from Europe alone, stating that the model has since been replaced by the vein number system which generates the history of vehicles automatically.

He opined therefore that the directive of the Service as contained in the circular dated April 23, 2021 with reference number NCS/T&T/DCG/HQ/S.52/VOL111 signed by the DGC (Tariff &Trade) does not align with international best practice.

He said the Service anchored the directive on the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) of 1971, which is now outdated and requiring immediate amendment by the National Assembly.

Farinto also called on the Senate Committee on Excise and Customs to expedite the amendment of CEMA so as to ensure that policies emanating from Service are in line with international best practices.

“The issue of Log-Book is outdated. It is no more in practice. 70% of Log Books are in European language because logbook emanated when we were doing importation from European countries alone. But now, our importation is beyond European nations. We are importing from China and America.

“America is so vast and innovative hence they started the vein VIN system. The vein number serves as the car’s fingerprint. As you all know, everybody’s fingerprint can never be the same. That is also applicable to the vein VIN and it is composed of 17 characters with digits and the capital letters.

“If you have a Toyota corolla for example, a 2001 model, with a certain set of numbers, it cannot have the same characteristics with another Toyota corolla built in the same year. This means that once a car is produced with a particular vein number, no other vehicle carries that vein number.  So this is akin to a car’s finger print and this is what the customs service should use”, Farinto stated

He noted that the introduction of Log-Book in a rapidly evolving world would present Nigeria as a “laughing stock” before the international community.  

His words;

I am sure that if World Customs Organisation hears that Nigeria Customs Service is asking for Log-Book in this 21st century, Nigeria would become a subject of ridicule in the committee of nations hence this brief to advise the Nigeria Customs Service to look inwardly, withdraw this circular and get a better sense of direction.

Farinto expressed fear that a window of corruption would be opened if the directive on vehicular log books is followed through at the expiration of the 90-day ultimatum.

According to him it “may lead to a situation where people will start producing fake documents because the officers on the field would start asking for log books which is no longer in existence. This would invariably encourage corruption.

“We are calling on the NCS to be in line with international best practices. Once this happens, officers on the field will start demanding for Log-Book and once the importers don’t have, they would be asked to settle and that is corruption. If we must get it right, there should be a uniform duty.

“Nigerian importers are ready to pay their duty. We as freight forwarders should know the actual duty that every vehicle demands but with this Log-Book system, it would take us back to twenty years what we have achieved in the industry,” he stated.

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