Fed Govt Bans 91 Private Jets, Insists On N30bn Duty
The Federal Government has directed the Nigeria Customs Service to ground 91 private jets belonging to some Nigerians over their alleged refusal to pay import duties running to over N30bn.
It will be recalled that the Nigeria Customs Service began a verification exercise for all privately owned aircrafts in the country on the 7th of June, 2021 where private aircraft owners were expected to visit the Tariff and Trade Department of the Service with their; Aircraft Certificate of Registration, NCAA’s Flight Operations Compliance Certificate, NCAA’s Permit for Non-Commercial Flights and Temporary Import Permit where applicable.
The Nigeria Customs Service implored all concerned to avail themselves of this opportunity as it will not hesitate to activate enforcement procedures on identified defaulters and that the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria has also been put on notice to ensure only Privately Owned Aircraft duly verified, and cleared by Customs are authorized to operate within our airspace.
As a result, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali, (rtd.) following a directive from the Presidency, has written a letter to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency asking the agencies to ground the affected private jets with immediate effect.
The letter was titled, ‘Recovery of Aviation Import Duty on Privately Owned Aircraft Operating in the Country.’
The NCAA letter read in part, “The Federal Government in its drive for enhanced revenues has mandated the Nigeria Customs Service to immediately recover from defaulting private aircraft owners the required statutory import duties on their imported aircraft.
“You may wish to recall the verification exercise conducted by the NCS, initially scheduled for a 14 day period, but magnanimously extended over a 60-day period from 7th June through 6 August 2021, following a World Press Conference held on 31st May 2021. The outcome of the aforementioned verification exercise is a compilation of all private aircraft imported into the country without payment of statutory import duty.
“The Nigeria Custom Service, in line with its statutory functions, is empowered by Part 111 Sections 27, 35, 37, 45,46, 47, 52, 56,63 & 64; Part XI Sections 144, 145, 155, 160, 161& 164 and Part XII Sections 167, 168, 169, 173 & 174 of the Customs and Excise Management Act.”
It further read, “In this regard therefore, your full cooperation is being solicited to ensure the success of this initiative and that all such private aircraft owners or representatives are denied administrative and operational flight clearances indefinitely, until an NCS issued Aircraft Clearance Certificate is procured and presented to your organisation as proof of compliance.
“For the avoidance of doubt, ALL aircraft operated in accordance with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s regulation for the issuance of Permit for Non-Commercial Flight and those issued with Flight Operations Clearance Certificate and Maintenance Clearance Certificate accordingly are affected by this directive.
“Please find attached the list of all verified aircraft and indeed others of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s register, which may not have come forward for your record and necessary action. Strict compliance with this directive is to be ensured. Please accept the assurances of my highest regards and esteem as always.”
“The 91 private jets owe import duties in excess of N30bn and the Federal Government has directed that the Customs must recover this money. This is why we have sent demand notices to the private jet owners,” a Customs source privy to the development told one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity.
However, other private jets whose owners have commenced the process of paying their import duty have been given a 14-day ultimatum to clear the debts, while the list of the 91 private jets whose owners have yet to present themselves for import duty payment has been presented to the aviation agencies by the NCS for the immediate grounding of their flight operations.