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Customs clamps down on private jet operators over tax evasion


Abiola Seun

To boost internal security and revenue,  the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is set to beam its searchlight on private jet owners, who are now mandated to carry out an immediate verification of their aircraft to ensure they are operating legally as enshrined in Federal Government’s extant laws.

The Public Relations Officer of the NCS, Joseph Attah, in a press briefing in Abuja, explained that defaulters will be visited with the full weight of the law, assuring that no one will be treated as a sacred cow.

He said: “In line with the need to ensure strict compliance with all regulations, especially at this time of challenging security situation and reluctance of some highly placed individuals to pay taxes, Nigeria Customs Service will be taking stock of all privately owned aircrafts in the Country.

“This is to ensure strict compliance with all relevant regulations governing importation of such Aircrafts.
“Consequently, Nigeria Customs Service, in line with its statutory functions as provided for in Part III Sections 27, 35, 37, 45, 46, 47, 52, 56, 63 & 64; Part XI Sections 144, 145, 155, 160, 161 & 164 and Part XII Sections 167, 168, 169 173 & 174 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) hereby invites all the owners of Private Aircrafts in the country to come forward with their relevant importation clearance documents for verification”.
Attah further explained that the documents sought for verification are: aircraft certificate of registration, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA’s) Flight Operations Compliance Certificate (FOCC), NCAA’s Maintenance Compliance Certificate (MCC), NCAA’s Permit for Non-Commercial Flights (PNCF) and Temporary Import Permit (TIP) (where application).

He noted that all private jet owners or their representatives are to report to room 305, Tariff and Trade Department, Nigeria Customs Service Headquarters, Abuja from Monday June 7 through Tuesday July 6, 2021 between 10:00am and 5:00pm daily, with all the relevant Aircraft documents for verification.

While clarifying that private jets do not pay Customs duties, Attah noted that such airplanes are expected to pay the mandatory Comprehensive Imports Supervision Scheme (CISS) charges.
“We want to ensure all charges due to the government are paid. The move is not punitive but to ensure compliance. If deficiencies are found, there will be room for correction.
“We are aware Nigeria is facing security challenges and there is a downturn in global economy and so any legitimate thing that will boost our revenue is welcome.
“We need to know who owns what and we want to know how they came in to ensure that nothing untoward happened”, he added.
On the likely sanctions defaulters might face, Attah said “I don’t want to jump the gun on sanctions. But it depends on the gravity of the offence. We are not in a position to preempt anything. We believe that private jet owners are highly-placed individuals that will do the right thing.
” They  will do what the law says”.
In another development, Attah disclosed that Customs has generated N799,024,705,961 between 1 January and May 30 this year.
The Customs Spokesman described the figure as glaring improvement on N226,110,610,991.00 generated within the same period in 2020.
He said the feat was made possible due to strict implementation of all extant rules governing imports, exports and excise in Nigeria, strategic deployment of officers, automation of the processes and regulations, increasing inclination of officers and men to put national interest above selves, robust stakeholder sensitization, increasing level of compliance from stakeholders  and improved working relation with National Assembly.
On the ongoing recruitment exercise, Attah disclosed that those who passed the aptitude test have been invited for physical screening.
“We are now ensuring we sieve out the issues like health, height and others and soon, the final list will be out. Then they’ll come for documentation and later proceed for training”, be said.

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