Automobile dealers under the aegis of Automobile Dealers Friends Association on Monday protested the sealing of their businesses by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) as a result of a crackdown on cars suspected to have been smuggled through the land borders.
The over 100 protesting members of the Association had from 10am walked from Awolowo Road Ikeja to the State House of Assembly, stopping only at the Customs Federal Operations Unit on Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, Ikeja to protest the crackdown which began on Sep. 30; before ending the protest at 2.56pm.
With placards bearing various inscriptions such as “Customs we are not smiling, we are tired since September 30, 2019,” “Enough of the injustice, unseal our shops,” “Customs, come and take the smuggled vehicles you collected duty on”, the peaceful protesters, also took the time off to explain to Nigerians how Customs had brought devastating downturn to their businesses.
At the NCS office, Mr Morgan Ogbede, the Chairman of the Association and other executives engaged in a closed-door meeting with Mr Mohammed Aliyu, the Comptroller, Federal Operations Unit Zone A and other officials of the NCS.
At the end of the meeting, Aliyu addressed the protesters telling them that their grievances will be addressed.
Speaking later, Ogbede gave an insight into his meetings with officials of the House of Assembly and the NCS, saying that the NCS had promised to unseal their shops if the required duties were paid on allegedly smuggled cars.
“The State House of Assembly said that they will bring our petition to the notice of the Nigerian Customs Service and communicate back to us for a lasting resolution of the issues.
“At the Federal Operations Unit of the NCS, the Comptroller, Mr Mohammed Aliyu told us that if we know we have any smuggled cars in our lot, that we should come forward and make payment.
“If we do not have, he will be able to assist us in opening our shops pending when they will resolve the issues with the additional payments from already cleared cars from the Abuja office.”
Ogbede said he was satisfied with the consensus reached by the Association and the NCS.
He said that Aliyu was also informed about other challenges faced by the automobile dealers.
“Apart from the closure of our shops, we told them about the issues of harassment, intimidation and extortion on our customers using the eastern roads outside Lagos.
“Aliyu said when we get to Abuja, we should lay the complaints to the Comptroller-General of the NCS as it will be very risky leaving the road unmanned,” he said.
Ogbede also said that the Association still intended to file a suit in court demanding compensation for the various losses its members had suffered as a result of the closure of their shops two months ago.
Members of the Automobile Dealers Friends Association on Monday protesting the closure of their automobile shops by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) in Lagos.