SENATE has temporarily stopped the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS from going ahead with the implementation of its proposed plan to collect duties on old and new vehicles in the country. The resolution of the Senate, followed a point of order, raised by the Senate Deputy Leader, Bala Na’Allah. Adopting the motion, the Senate, said the status quo should be maintained until the ControllerGeneral of NCS appears before the relevant committees of the Upper Legislative Chamber to explain the rationale behind the policy. The Senate president, Bukola Saraki, said the directive contravenes the law and will therefore not stand. He urged the NCS boss to come up with a way forward. “This is a very straightforward motion and our responsibility here is to ensure that we oversight agencies and ensure that they comply with the law. It is very clear that this circular does not meet the requirement of the law. The Customs Committee should quickly look into this matter and come out with a way forward,” Saraki noted. Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu who spoke extensively on the issue, called on his colleagues to resist the new directive by NCS. He said the directive is illegal and that it lacks common sense. The Deputy Senate President added that the policy was retrogressive, saying that punishments cannot be melted out over an action taken years ago. Ekweremadu said: “Just last week, one of our colleagues raised a motion in respect of people that bought bags of rice and some tins of groundnut oil taken to their houses and Customs came into those houses, harassed them and took away those items on the pretence that appropriate Customs duties were not paid or they were prohibited materials. “Today, we have been inundated with again another development, where cars bought many years ago are been asked from car owners or are been asked to come back and show Customs papers or pay appropriate Customs duties. “Let me also say that we share the concerns of the Customs boss on raising revenue to run our country, but unfortunately, it cannot be at the expense of common sense and illegality. “Government is run on the principles of checks and balances. It is our responsibility to call the executive to order where recklessness is introduced in governance of any country and I believe that our constitution is clear on who does what at any time. “Not even the National Assembly itself can impose punishment on crime that was committed years ago. It cannot happen. If we cannot do that, the Customs cannot do that either. What they are doing is totally unacceptable and we must say no to it.”

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