Court Slams Fine On Customs Over Arbitrary Jerk-Up Of PAAR
Fred Omotara, Lagos
The Federal high Court Ikoyi has fined the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) over the Service failure to appear for hearing on Wednesday 15th of June 2022 over alleged arbitrarily jerk up of the Pre Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR)
Recall that an originating summon was filed by Kay Far freight forwarders forum on 13th of December 2021 wherein the freight forwarders asked for an order on Pre Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) being allegedly arbitrarily issued by the NCS.
Kay Far freight forwarders had gone to court to determine whether the Nigeria Customs and Excise have the locus standing to arbitrarily increase and or jack up PAAR without following the provision act as contained in valuation Act 20 of 2003.
Kay Far had also prayed the court to determine whether the NCS after the issuance of PAAR which has been allegedly jack up arbitrarily can still query the value issue on PAAR and still subject the importation to reappraisal of duty.
Speaking with our correspondent after the Judge Justice I.N Kweibo had ruled that the NCS should pay the Kay Far freight forwarding forum a sum of N50,000 to be paid on or before the adjourned date of hearing for signing a counter affidavits without serving the group, the counsel to Kay Far freight forwarders barrister Ayodele Olaniyi said “We are now asking for a declaration by the honourable court to determine whether the NCS have the locus to arbitrarily jack up the assessment without recourse to the valuation act of 2003 that’s one of our prayers
“And on the other leg when a container has been released from the terminal, why should we now have a situation where another set of Customs officers on the way will now come and confiscate the cargo.
“They will now do another reassessment of the cargo that has already been examined. This is double jeopardy for the freight forwarders and even the Nigeria economy in a situation you are having two or three charges on a particular container, and at the end of the day it bounce back on the consumers
“The world trade organisation really frowns at this and Nigeria is part of word trade organisation. Customs excise section 164 particularly makes provision for invasion and avoidance of duty so their statutory authority to penalised any would be offenders
“We are in court today, the court gave us today for hearing and we did serve on them the hearing notice since April
“We are in court today now only to discover that they went and file a counter affidavit, put it in the court file without serving us, meanwhile we are the counsel on record, the process we serve on them have our details” he said
He noted that the action is an attempt to frustrate the matter.
Speaking also, the Managing Director of Wealthy Honey Investment limited, Dr. Kayode Farinto added that one of the prayers of the forum is to get clarification between duty avoidance and duty invasion.
He said, “And one of our prayers is the duty of 25 Percent penalty. We want the court to interpret between duty avoidance and duty invasion because if you go to the FIRS law which is a matter of revenue, there is different between when somebody seize a container from the port and duty was not paid and you want to give that person punishment and somebody who have gone to pay duty and perhaps maybe the actual duty was not paid and you are given him 25 percent penalty as punishment. We want the court to determine this also” he said.
The court adjourned the case to 12th day of October 2022.