A federal high court in Abuja has declared that it is unlawful for the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to collect import duty on items that are meant for personal use.
John Tsoho, chief judge of the federal high court, gave this order on Wednesday while delivering judgment in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1113/2019.
Kehinde Ogunwumiju, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), instituted the suit after officers of the NSC demanded and collected import duty and other related charges from him in respect of his personal effect (a Louis Vuitton laptop bag) found in his baggage at Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja on June 24, 2019.
Ogunwumiju, through his lawyer Tunde Adejumo, argued that pursuant to 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 the NCS to have collected N156, 955. 20k as import duty on his personal items.
Delivering judgment, the judge held that the customs ought not to charge import duty on goods contained in a passenger’s baggage, provided that the said goods are not intended for sale, barter or exchange, and that they are personal and household effects.
The judge held that the plaintiff (Ogunwumiju) established evidence to show that the items found in his baggage by the officers of the NCS were meant for his personal use.
He said: “The defendants having failed to establish via evidence that the said bag found in the Plaintiff’s baggage was meant for sale, exchange or barter, there was no legal basis upon which the officers of the Nigerian Customs Service demanded and collected import duty and other related charges from the plaintiff in respect of the said bag.”
The judge, therefore, ordered the NCS to refund the N156, 955. 20k collected as import duty to Ogunwumiju.
He also ordered the NSC to pay N5 million as exemplary damages to the plaintiff.