The NCS Comptroller-General, who was represented by one of his Deputy Comptrollers, Dr. Manasseh Jatau, before the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation investigating the vehicle purchases in the aviation industry, testified that the NCS granted an import duty waiver for the cars, alongside 298 other vehicles for the sports festival based on the directive of the Presidency.
Jatau said that the duty waiver of N10.1 million approval via the Ministry of Finance had an end user certificate No.0000001672 in the name of Lagos State government dated 6/6/2013 and issued by the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).
He also disclosed that the end user certificate for the armoured cars in the name of Coscharis Motors Limited remained tenable as at the time the cars were imported into the country.
The Customs chief said though the NCS was not under obligation to ascertain the final destination of the armoured cars, the cars which were eventually traced to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Agency (NCAA) were not transferable to any other outfit other than the Lagos State government based on the provision of the law.
Referring the lawmakers to several documents at his disposal, including the import exemption certificate Ref. BO/R.10260/s.3/VIIIB/73 of November 20, 2012 issued by the Ministry of Finance to the Lagos State government through Messrs Coscharis Motor Limited for the sports festival, he noted: “The Nigeria Customs Service is not a magician; we wouldn’t have known that after the clearance of the armoured cars at the port, the beneficiary decided to do something else with them afterwards.” President of Coscharis Group, Mr. Cosmos Maduka, alleged political undertone in the entire vehicle fraud saga involving his company.
“The subject under discussion is politically motivated. We followed all due process to bring the vehicles into the country. First Bank provided the financial involvement and we appeared before the officials of the State Security Service (SSS) and the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) for an interview and I want to inform this committee that every requirement by law was followed by us in the entire process of procurement for the vehicles.”
The lawmakers accused the management of Coscharis of inflating the cost of the vehicles even when the company enjoyed duty waiver from the Federal Government.
“You did not pay tax to Nigerians; you purchased the vehicles for the use of the Lagos State sports festival and later sold them to NCAA. I put it to you that you have used your company to rip off Nigerians through NCAA”, a member of the committee, Jerry Manwe, retorted.