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NIGERIA’S NATIONAL ASSEMBLY VERSUS CUSTOMS BOSS

Greetings, folks!
You know, I am truly sick and tired of commenting on Nigeria’s parliament, but, unfortunately, it is something that nobody should be tired of, if we want to save Nigeria. So, I guess I still have to say this—it is saddening that the Nigerian public perceives Nigeria’s lawmakers as a threat to the country’s democracy!!! Nigerians consistently cry out against the acts of the lawmakers, but the cries seem to fall on deaf ears.

 Nigerians believe that the parliamentarians spend half of their time to enrich themselves, and the other half to fight anti-people wars, abdicating the duties for which they were supposedly elected. I say supposedly elected, considering that we know that too many of the lawmakers were rigged into the seats, contrary to what the people’s votes said. Presently, the Nigerian senate is in one of those wars that Nigerians perceive to be selfish, even when they may actually be right. This time, it’s with the head of Nigeria Customs and Excise Department (NCED). 

The agency suddenly instituted an anti-people retroactive order that Nigerians see as insensitive extortion of the public in a hard-biting recession. The order is now suspended in the heat
of the ensuing controversy, but it was to be retroactive, forcing automobile owners in Nigeria to pay customs duty on every vehicle that was brought into Nigeria from six years ago to the present day. Of course, it is imperative to pay tax for imported vehicles. The controversy here is that the taxation on those vehicles should have happened at the port of entry at the time that they were imported, and not to harass the final owners in the streets after the fact.

 So, the questions that beg for answers include—why were the taxes not paid at the port of entry when the vehicles were brought into Nigeria by the importers; and, is the Customs boss trying to extort Nigerians by indiscriminately taxing vehicles that have been taxed at the port of entry, along with defaulters?
Firstly, import duties are supposed to be paid at the port of entry, not in the streets of the country. Secondly, most of the vehicle owners bought them from dealers whose duty it is to pay the tax; so, why should the customs department victimize the owners who believe that the importers have
paid the tax at the port, as it should be?
Then, the million-dollar question—whose fault is it, in the first place, when a vehicle escapes import duty at the port of entry? It is clear that this is due to the corruption of customs officers who
take bribe from importers to evade taxation. And then, who pays the defrauded importation tax for a given vehicle now? Is it the importer, who already paid bribe to Customs officers to evade the tax, or the totally innocent owner who bought the car from a dealer, or the Customs Officer who has consumed the tax in form of bribe, huh, huh, huh??? If you ask me, or even if nobody asks me, I’m still saying that the recalcitrant Customs officers should be made to vomit the bribe and pay the tax.

 If they can’t trace the officers, then the agency just has to make do with fixing its own house to stop further bribery. So, I say that it’s mischievous of the Custom’s boss, Hameed Ali, to come up with this obnoxious order that can’t stand in a court of law.
Ordinarily, all Nigerians would solidly stand behind the senators in the face-off between them
and the Customs boss. But, you see, that’s the saddest thing about the crisis of confidence with Nigerian lawmakers; they are seen to be too corrupt and selfish for any form of support from the public. Nigerians believe that the lawmakers have no moral right to even speak against, let alone try to penalize anybody for any wrongdoing whatsoever! Many Nigerians would rather support the devil himself against the lawmakers. And, I must tell ya, I am one of those Nigerians; our so-called lawmakers lost my confidence long ago.
Nigerians in overwhelming majority believe that the lawmakers only criticize or/and penalize individuals or agencies that disagree with their atrocious acts. Here are some instances to go by:

  1. As soon as the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) of Nigeria instituted a corruption court case against Senate President Bukola Saraki, the senate countered with an obnoxious move to emasculate the CCB and its chairman with a hurried amendment bill. In pursuit of this, all other bills and functions of the senate practically came to a stop, ostensibly aimed to pass it quickly enough to stop Saraki’s case. It took resounding public outcry to stop the bill.
  2. No sooner did the former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) boss Lamode announce that he was investigating some lawmakers, than they quickly went after his job from several angles, and eventually succeeded. Now, please don’t get me wrong, I am not absolving Lamode here, no sir, no ma’am! My problem is that, if guilty, Lamode had been doing, or had the record for whatever it was that they nailed him for, but our so-called lawmakers selfishly did not perform their oversight function until Lamode stepped on their toes and fell out of favor or/and out of a deal.
  3. And then, Lamode’s successor who was in acting capacity made the error of investigating some lawmakers, forgetting (Nigerians muse) that he had to be screened by the lawmakers for his confirmation. He has paid dearly for it—no confirmation for him ‘til date, even as Nigerian President obstinately re-submitted his name!!! Even children seem to recognize the
    correlation.
  4. Presently, the Customs boss has committed a sin of daring to impound an SUV valued at 270 and odd million naira that a dealer recently imported purportedly for the Senate President, for which seventy million naira import duty was evaded. I say purportedly for the Senate President only because there is a denial that the SUV is for the house, and not for the personal use of the president; but there is no dispute that it does belong to the senate.
    Mind you, the two EFCC bosses that the lawmakers went for their jugulars might have done wrong in various ways. And, surely, Nigerians detest the act of the Customs boss Ali for a retroactive insensitive order that aimed to extort the public. Indeed, many also believe that he has no right to flout the order of the senate to wear a Customs uniform as mandated in the Customs Act, which a
    lawyer did read out as I watched on TV. But, the problem remains that Nigerians have a major confidence crisis with the entire lawmakers. Hence, the public is much divided between the senators and the Customs boss, despite the general belief that the Customs boss intended to extort the public.
    The reason is that the lawmakers are generally considered public enemy number one; and, anybody
    who fights them in any form becomes a public friend. Remember the saying—my enemy’s enemy is my friend? That’s always the sad situation whenever the perceived public enemy number one—the
    National Assembly—becomes enemy with anybody, even the devil himself…No Bullshitting!!!

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