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FG Targets Improperly Imported Private Jets In New Clampdown



FG Targets Improperly Imported Private Jets in New Clampdown

The Federal Government, through the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), has launched a new initiative to clamp down on operators of improperly imported private jets in the country, News About Nigeria reports.

Starting Wednesday, over 80 private jet operators are expected to present their aircraft import documents at the NCS headquarters in Abuja.

This special aircraft import verification exercise will last for 30 days, according to a public notice issued by Customs.

The notice stated, “The Nigeria Customs Service announces a verification exercise for privately owned aircraft operating in Nigeria. This exercise aims to identify improperly imported private aircraft without documentation, ensuring proper imports and maximum revenue collection.”

Private jet owners and operators are required to bring relevant documents, including the aircraft Certificate of Registration, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s Flight Operation Compliance Certificate, Maintenance Compliance Certificate, Permit for Non-Commercial Flights, and Temporary Import Permit (if applicable).

This follows more than a year after the Federal Government suspended a similar action.

Despite some private jet owners paying the mandatory import duty after steps were taken by the Hameed Ali-led NCS, many have yet to comply.

Operators have been accused of using Temporary Import Permits (TIPs) to bypass paying the statutory five percent import duty on their aircraft.

These TIPs, valid initially for 12 months and extendable by six months twice, have been indefinitely extended by some operators, prompting the current crackdown.

A source close to the verification exercise disclosed, “Based on the data we have, we are expecting no fewer than 80 private aircraft operators for the verification exercise. These include operators of about 20 private aircraft that have been imported since the last verification exercise,”

The exercise is expected to lead to the payment of the mandatory import duty, with aircraft operators who fail to comply potentially facing the grounding of their jets.

Customs officials estimate that the government could recover close to N100 billion in unpaid import duties due to high exchange rates.

This figure could increase if the 25 percent penalty fee for delayed payment is enforced in addition to the statutory five percent duty.

In the past, some private aircraft operators have resorted to legal action to stop the government from collecting the import duty.

In 2021, 17 owners of foreign-registered private jets, including top business moguls and leading commercial banks, sued the Federal Government over the imposition of import duties on their aircraft.

Jet owners typically register their aircraft in foreign countries to preserve value and pay lower insurance premiums.

The National Public Relations Officer of the NCS, Abdullahi Maiwada, confirmed the verification exercise. “All we are doing is ensuring maximum revenue collection for the federal government. Relevant sections of our extant laws and regulations will guide our actions and inactions during and after the exercise,” he stated.