Commercial LawHeadlines

Court slams N5m damages on Nigerian Customs, declares duty on personal effects illegal

By Michael Ojo

A Federal High Court, Abuja on Wednesday ordered the Nigerian Customs Service to pay N5 million damages to a senior lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwumiju SAN for collecting import duty on his computer bag, even as the court declared as illegal and unlawful, collection of import duties on personal effects of passengers.

Justice James Tsoho arrived at this decision sequel to a motion filed by Mr Ogunwumiju.

Ogunwumiju had approached the court through his counsel Tunde Ahmed Adejumo, with an Originating Summons seeking a declaration that in view of the provisions of Section 8 of the Customs, Excise Tariff, etc. (Consolidation) Act and the 2nd Schedule to the Customs, Excise Tariff, etc. (Consolidation) Act, it was unlawful for officers of the Nigerian Customs Service to have demanded and collected import duty and other related charges from the Plaintiff in respect of his personal effect (A Louis Vuitton Lap Top Bag) found in his baggage following a search by the officers of the Nigerian Customs Service upon his arrival at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja on June 24, 2019.

The Court in its judgment having analysed the provisions of Section 8 of the Customs, Excise Tariff, etc. (Consolidation) Act and the 2nd Schedule to the Customs, Excise Tariff, etc. (Consolidation) Act was of the view that the following goods are exempted from import duty and other related charges:

  • Goods contained in a passenger’s baggage provided that the said goods are not intended for sale, barter or exchange; and
  • Personal and household effects.

The Court found that based on the state of the evidence before it, the Plaintiff had established that the Louis Vuitton Lap Top Bag found in his baggage by the officers of the Nigerian Customs Service was his personal effect and meant for his personal use.

The Court also found that before the Defendants could lawfully demand and collect import duty and other related charges in respect of the said Louis Vuitton Lap Top Bag found in the Plaintiff’s baggage, the Defendants had to establish via cogent and credible evidence that the said bag was meant for sale, exchange or barter.

You should also READ  Omar Khadr told to answer Utah plaintiffs’ questions about his war crimes confession

Accordingly, the Defendants having failed to establish via evidence that the said bag found in the Plaintiff’s baggage was meant for sale, exchange or barter, there was no legal basis upon which the officers of the Nigerian Customs Service demanded and collected import duty and other related charges from the Plaintiff in respect of the said bag.

Finally, the Court having found that the decision and action of the Defendants to demand and collect from the Plaintiff import duty and other related charges in respect of his personal effect is unlawful, null and void ordered the Defendants to refund the sum of N156, 955. 20k (One Hundred and Fifty-Six Thousand, Nine Hundred and Fifty-Five Naira, Twenty Kobo) in import duty and other related charges to the Plaintiff.  NCS is also to pay to the Plaintiff the sum of N5, 000, 000.00 (Five Million Naira) as exemplary damages.

Following this judgment, it is now unlawful for officers of the Nigerian Customs Service to demand and collect import duty and other related charges from anyone in respect of goods/personal effects found in their baggage provided that the said goods/personal effects are not meant for sale, barter or exchange.

In other words, the only instance in which officers of the Nigerian Customs Service can lawfully demand and collect import duty from anyone in respect of goods/personal effects found in their baggage is where it can establish that the said goods/personal effects are meant for sale, barter or exchange.

Tags

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Close
Close