Business travelers get relief as High Court condemns collection of import duty on personal goods

The Nigerian Customs Service (NSC) will henceforth have to tender cogent and verifiable evidence that goods found in travelers baggage are meant for sale before charging them. That was the judgement passed by the Federal High Court last week to put to rest a case brought before it since June 2019.

The Federal High Court said it is unlawful for the Nigerian Customs Service to demand import duty be paid by travelers carrying goods and personal belongings with no intention of selling or exchanging such for commercial purpose. The case tagged as suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1113/2019 was filed against the Nigerian Custom Service by Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN). The judgement was delivered by Justice John Tsoho last week, at the Federal High Court, in Abuja.

Sunday Ejike of the Nigerian Tribune reported the case. He wrote, The Plaintiff, through his counsel, Tunde Ahmed Adejumo, had, in an Originating Summons prayed the court to declare that, by virtue 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 Nigerian Customs Service to have demanded and collected import duty and other related charges from him, in respect of his personal effect (A Louis Vuitton Lap Top Bag) found in his baggage following a search by the officers of the Nigerian Customs Service upon his arrival at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja on June 24, 2019.

The court said, in its judgement, that goods found in personal baggage without the intention of trading them for commercial exchange cannot be placed in the same category with related items specifically marked as import for sales. It said before men of the customs service can demand duty for personal goods cogent evidence must be provided to show that such goods are to be traded.

This will serve as relief for business men and women who have always had their personal belongings charged for duties along with imported business items on arrival from destinations such as Dubai, China, Germany and Morocco.

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