Automobile Dealers, Ubani law firm drag Customs to court over raids at car marts
After days of anguish and outcries over what they described as unlawful raids and sealing of their car marts across select cities including Lagos and Abuja, the automobile dealers association is set to initiate legal action against the Nigerian Custom Service (NCS) and Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).
Recall that within the last few weeks, there had been a serious crisis between dealers of exotic cars and operatives of Nigerian Customs, who claims that they were raiding car marts with intelligence that some of their cars did not pass through due process during the process of their customs clearance at the ports in Nigeria.
However, in a letter to the Comptroller General of NCS, through the law firm of Ubani & Co, the group condemned the September 30, 2019 raid and sealing of their offices by customs officers saying that the action of the Agency was a demonstration of gross irresponsibility, unprecedented impunity and abuse of power.
The auto dealers’ averred that all the cars in their business premises were duly cleared and appropriate duties paid to the federal government.
The group in the letter which was also forward to the Senate President, Speaker of House of Representatives and Attorney General of the Federation, also warned that if their business premises were not opened in the next 14 days with a compensation of N10billion for businesses loss during the period of closure, they would have no other option but to approach the court for redress.
Their letter read in parts as follows: “We must state here with all sense of responsibility and patriotism that the action of Nigeria custom officers in this regard is a demonstration of gross irresponsibility, unprecedented impunity and abuse of power.
“Though the Nigerian Customs & 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 up the entire premises without any form of examination or inspection of papers.
“This very act of yours has no protection under the Act, but smacks of impunity, illegality and flagrant abuse of executive power.
“No law under our law books, including the Customs & Excise Management Act, empowers you to take the steps you have taken in the manner you have taken it.
“The action of the Nigerian Customs is not only lawless but very oppressive. The moment when Nigerian Government agencies elevate the pursuit of revenue above the right and welfare of the citizens, Nigeria is doomed, but God forbid that things degenerate to that level.
“Take notice therefore that you have 14 days from the day you receive this letter to unseal all our Client’s members’ business premises to enable them carry out their lawful businesses as Nigerian citizens.
“Take further notice that you have a period of 30 days from the date you receive this letter to pay a compensation of N10Billion 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 than to seek redress through a competent court of law,” the Association of Auto Dealers maintained.