Customs rejects court ruling on personal effects

Customs law outdated, says Comptroller-General

Hameed Ali, Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service.

 

The Nigeria Customs Service has rejected the ruling of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which declared that payment of import duty on goods/personal effects in passenger’s baggage was unlawful.

Justice John Tsoho, in a judgment delivered last Wednesday held that goods in a passenger’s baggage (provided that the said goods are not intended for sale, barter or exchange) and personal and household effects are exempt from import duty under section 8 of the Customs, Excise Tariff, etc (Consolidation) Act and the 2nd Schedule to the Customs, Excise Tariff , etc (Consolidation) Act.

The judgment was on a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1113/2019 filed by Kehinde Ogunwumiju against the Nigeria Customs Service.

Reacting to the development, Public Relations of the NCS, Joseph Attah, hinted that the NCS was set to appeal the judgment, as the service believes it is not in tune with extant law governing passenger concession.

According to him, “It is a different case if there is the argument that the N50,000 limits is too low, hence should be reviewed upward. Until that is done the Service has a duty to enforce extant law/guideline.”

He added that the Service legal team was already at the process of filling appeal against the judgement.

The plaintiff, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN) via her counsel Tunde Ahmed Adejumo, had approached the court via an originating summons primarily 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 NCS to have demanded and collected import duty and other related charges from the plaintiff in respect of her personal effect (a Louis Vuitton laptop bag) found in her baggage following a search by Customs officers upon arrival at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja on the 24th June, 2019.

The court had thereafter ordered the fefendant (Customs) to refund the sum of N156,955. 20k in import duty and other related charges to the plaintiff and also to pay to the plaintiff N5 million as damages.

According to the judgment, it was unlawful for officers of the NCS 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 were not meant for sale, barter or exchange.