FEATURE: Most of the Imported Tokunbo Cars In Nigeria are Stolen Abroad

By DAPO OLAWUNI

Nigeria for the past ten years now, may have become the destination for stolen vehicles abroad, even as sources have said that most of the hot high-end tokunbo vehicles on car stands around Lagos are likely stolen abroad.

Findings have shown that majority of the stolen vehicles are usually shipped to neighbouring ports of Ghana, Cotonou and Togo, from where they are smuggled through bush paths into the Nigerian markets.

Some of the stolen tokunbo vehicles also made their way to Tin Can Island Port in Lagos where there is available market for them. A lot of car marts are scattered between the Tin Can Port and Mile 2, one of the biggest is the Berger Auto market, the biggest car sales point in Africa.

Reliable sources at the port confirmed to our correspondent that most of these stolen vehicles are later refurbished, painted and sold to unsuspecting buyers.

Apart from these, accidented and damaged vehicles have equally flooded Nigerian ports.

It was however confirmed that the reason why damaged vehicles have continued to flooded Nigerian ports was as a result of the duty rebate granted them by the Nigeria Customs Service.

Some of the vehicles according to reliable sources are often time declared as “accidented” in order to enjoy the duty rebate from Customs, even though the vehicles are not actually so damaged to enjoy such rebate.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Nigeria’s import between October 2018 and September 2019 amounted to N15.19 trillion, out of which used cars and motorcycle importation accounted for 7% of the country’s total import at a whooping N676.3 billion during the period.

Further details provided by the Bureau show that the used imported cars came from countries like the United States, Italy, Belgium, Germany and Canada. These are same countries with high rates of car hijackings.

A source told our correspondent that despite the closure of the borders last year by the Nigeria Customs Service coupled with lockdown due to COVID-19, stolen tokunbo vehicles are still being smuggled into Nigeria in trickles.

He said “Due to the technology, you would expect that it should be very difficult for car thieves to get away with these vehicles without key, but many of these syndicates have perfected how to disable the system of the cars, no matter how sophisticated ”

Some of the expensive smuggled vehicles impounded by the Nigeria Customs Service that are currently languishing at the Federal Operations Unit in Ikeja Lagos.

However, one thing these vehicles have in common is that they are usually expensive, and they dont usually have Customs duty papers. Some of may get a fake Customs document, but a very brilliant car buyer should always confirm these documents with the Nigerian Customs.

Records have shown an increasing number of high-end, hot vehicles are showing up at the US ports, bound for export in a lucrative, international black market trade involving luxury SUVs and other expensive cars worth million of dollars, many taken through carjackings.

At the Port of New York and New Jersey, 312 stolen vehicles that were reportedly being readied for shipment to places like Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa were recovered in 2019.

According to the Department of Homeland Security. Nationwide, customs officers at U.S. ports discovered 1,554 stolen cars and trucks last year, a 32 percent jump over the previous year.

Meanwhile, carmart.ng have identified ways to avoid buying a foreign, foreign used but stolen vehicle in Nigeria. A vehicle may have crossed its mother base, but this doesn’t immune the buyer from being dealt with when caught by eagle eyed Customs officers or the police.
What a buyer have to do is to

1. Request for Custom Papers

This should always be the first thing. In fact, if you carefully practice these processes, you could become an expert in buying cars for people.

2. Consider Buying from an Authorized Car Dealer

If you have difficulties trusting private individuals, walk down to a car shop (authorized). Here, you don’t have much to worry about, even though you still have to be watchful.

3. Try to Spot Fresh Paintings on the Car

If stolen car dealers think that they are wise, show them you’re wiser. The moment you start assessing the entire car, fear will grip a guilty seller. This is why I stated in the preferred purchase guide list that you have to look like a pro.

4. Confirm the Overall Looks

Sometimes, there are certain marks left on stolen cars. The thieves may often times not notice much of them. It’s now your responsibility to become a detector and figure these things out. Try not to be gullible no matter what or how things pan out.

DAILY TREND NEWS recalls that in 2013, the National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP), otherwise known as auto policy was launched in Nigeria under the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration.

Its major thrust is to encourage local manufacturing of automobiles by offering protection to potential and existing local investors while at the same time discouraging importation by raising the bar against all those who will rather export to Nigeria

Ultimately, the Federal Government had increased the tariff on imported vehicles from 20 per cent to 70 per cent as part of the auto policy introduced this is to encourage local manufacturing and assemblage of vehicles in-country.

But seven years down the line, the policy has done more damage to Nigeria instead of helping the local manufacturers as intended. The Auto Policy has rather caused smuggling of vehicles to thrive, while syndicates specialising in car theft abroad continued to flourish with already available market in Nigeria.

When these vehicles are smuggled into Nigeria through the porous borders, they must have paid duty to the neighbouring countries. After this, they pay smugglers between N100,000 and N200,000 to take the vehicle into Nigeria.

By so doing, Nigeria is losing billions of naira on yearly basis to the ineffective auto policy. Nigeria is also losing capacity, losing operatives of the customs to attacks on duty, and losing employment opportunities that would have been created by the vehicle manufacturing plants.

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