Amid foreign exchange scarcity, importers have taken delivery of 963,915 units of used vehicles through bonded terminals, Five Star Logistics Limited and Port and Terminal Multi-services Limited of the Tin Island Ports, between 2021 and 2022.
It was gathered that despite the Federal Government measure, some of the vehicles coming into the country were stolen. Government had complained that 40 per cent of the vehicles being shipped into the country were stolen. Findings revealed that importers spent N617.3billion on 849,756 used vehicles between January and December 2021. Also, 114, 159 units of vehicles were imported in the first half of 2022. It was revealed that intervention by United States Customs and Border Protection had further affected the importation of vehicles into the country in the first two months of 2023.
At the PTML terminal, Tincan Island Port, only three vessels came with 1,000 used vehicles. The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)’s shipping data explained that Grande Abidjan came with 400 units; Grande Sierra Leone, 300 units and Repubblica Argentina, 300 units. In February 2023, the U.S Customs complained that no fewer than 23 vehicles stolen werr being shipped to Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Monrovia, Liberia and Benin were intercepted at the Port of New York/Newark.
It was revealed that the United States Customs officials conducted a five-day operation in mid-February and discovered the vehicles in less than one week, noting the vehicles destined to the Western African countries were value at $1.33million. It listed the stolen vehicles as 2021 Mercedes Benz G55, 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe, 2020 Mercedes Benz S560, 2021 Land Rover HSE Sport, 2022 Jeep Wagoneer, 2021 BMW X7, 2022Lexus RX 350, 2021 Honda CRV, 2021 Audi Q8 S $70,995 and 2021 Audi Q5 $42,950. Others are 2019 Land Rover HSE $72,995, 2016 Lexus LX 570, 2020 Hyundai Tucson, 2021 BMW 540 XI, 2020 Jeep Wrangler, 2019 Honda CRV, 2019 Mercedes Benz GLS and 2020 Honda CRV,2022 Chevrolet Suburban, 2020 Jeep Wrangler, 2022 Jeep Wrangler, 2020 Audi Q 5 and 2022 BMW X 5M. It said: “More than 100 rounds of ammunition was also discovered hidden inside of a car that was destined for Nigeria.”
Between 2019 and 2021, more than 900 vehicles bound for Nigeria and Ghana were intercepted at Baltimore by U.S Customs from organised gang thieves. It would be recalled that in December, 2022, 2,100 units of used vehicles in six roll-on roll-off vessels were offloaded at the PTML, Tin Can Island Port Apapa. According to NPA’s shipping position, the six vessels that conveyed the vehicles are Repubblica Del Brasile leading with 350units; Grande Senegal, 350 units; Grande Cotonou, 400 units; Grande Gabon, 350 units; Grande Benin, 350 units and Grande Cameroon, 300 units. Also in November, 2022, the shipping data explained that 2,200 units of used vehicles were imported into the country by Grande San Paolo with 350 units; Grande Francia, 300 units; Grande Senegal, 400 units; Grande Tema, 450 units; Repubblica Argentina, 300 units and Grande Congo, 400 units as importers paid about 200 per cent as duty because of Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and the exchange rate which has been increased by the government from N409 to N422.3 per $1dollar. According to the Managing Di-rector of Sceptre Consult, Mr Jayeola Ogamode, the policy had S led to a drop in the importation of second-hand vehicles.
Ogamode said: “What Customs have done is in contravention of the law. There is a law, Act 20 0f 2003, passed through the Nigerian Shippers Council. That is the law that is based on value. The Customs do not have any other right to put value.” In August 2021, the Federal Government said that 40 per cent of smuggled vehicles that find their way into the country were stolen. It added that 45 per cent of the vehicles that enter the country were smuggled, leading to the launch of National Vehicle Registry (VERG) automated gateway portal in Lagos State. Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed explained that VERG was the centralized database for all vehicles in Nigeria using their unique Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN), which stores detailed vehicular information such as specifications, ownership, and history of each vehicle in Nigeria.