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Court Slams N50,000 Fine On Customs Service For Failing To Appear Before It

The Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos has slammed a fine of N50,000 on the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), over failure to appear before the court to defend alleged arbitrary hike in the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR).

Recall that an originating summon was filed by Kay Far freight forwarding forum on 13th of December 2021 wherein the freight forwarders asked for an order on PAAR being allegedly arbitrarily issued by the NCS.

The forum had gone to court to determine whether the Nigeria Customs has the locus standing to arbitrarily increase PAAR without following the provision act as contained in valuation Act 20 of 2003.

They also prayed the court to determine whether the NCS after the issuance of PAAR which has been allegedly been hiked arbitrarily can still query the value issued on PAAR and still subject the importation to reappraisal of duty.

Justice I.N Kweibo, had ruled that the Customs Service should pay Kay Far freight forwarding forum a sum of N50,000 for signing a counter affidavits without serving the forum.

Speaking with our correspondent after, the counsel to the forum, Barrister Ayodele Olaniyi, said the forum was in court to determine whether the service can unilaterally hike PAAR without recourse to valuation act of 2003.

He said, “We are asking for a declaration by the honourable court to determine whether the NCS have the locus to arbitrarily hike the assessment without recourse to the valuation act of 2003 that’s one of our prayers. On the other hand, when a container has been released from the terminal why should we now have a situation where another set of Customs officers on the highway will Intercept the cargo.

“They will now do another reassessment of the cargo that has already been examined by an officer at the seaports. This is double payment for the freight forwarders and even the Nigeria economy in a situation you are having two to three charges on a particular container and at the end of the day it bounce back on the final consumers

“The world trade organisation (WTO), really frowns at this and Customs excise section 164, particularly makes provision for evasion and avoidance of duty so their statutory authority to penalised any would be offenders. We are in court today, the court gave us today for hearing and we did serve them the hearing notice since April, but we get to the court only to discover that the Customs had filed a counter affidavit without serving us. We are the counsel, the process we use to serves them have our details” he said

Also speaking, the managing director, Wealthy Honey Investment Limited, Dr. Kayode Farinto, who commended the forum for instituiting the case said one of the prayers of the forum was for the court to give interpretation of the world duty avoidance and duty invasion.

The court, however, adjourned the case to 12th October 2022.

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