Volkswagen Not Assembling Vehicles In Nigeria As Claimed

By Ikenga Chronicles November 20, 2016

Volkswagen Nigeria may not be assembling vehicles in the country as is claimed.

The Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff, led by its Chairman, Hope Uzodinma, visited the VON premises on oversight assignment when it discovered that the place looked deserted with disused equipment in its assembly plant. The officials of the company, who had earlier declined to open the store to the lawmakers for inspection, were forced to grant the visitors access into the warehouse when the lawmakers threatened to force the door open.

The senators, who were there in the company of security operatives and officials of the NCS, saw no fewer than 1,500 pieces of various models of Volkswagen products and other brands of vehicles in the warehouse. He said the vehicles carried Federal Government’s official number plates in an attempt to deceive officers of the customs service.

Uzodinma had alleged in an interview with journalists in Abuja that there were indications that the company was not assembling vehicles in Nigeria as it claimed. He stated that his committee discovered different vehicle brands in the company’s warehouses which were already assembled before they were shipped to Nigeria.

The Managing Director of VON Automobiles,  Tokunbo Aromolaran, however, refuted Senate’s claim that the company was sabotaging the country’s economy.

Aromolaran said, “The Chairman of the Senate Committee, in company with about 30 people, comprising senators, officers of Nigeria Customs Service, journalists and police officers, descended on the VON premises on October 28, 2016, without prior notification.”

“They were given free access to our plants and warehouses, and found nothing other than what you would expect to see in an auto assembly plant – an inventory of vehicles assembled, awaiting delivery. We also confirmed that applicable duties were paid at the ports when the components were imported into the country.”

He said, “All applicable duties and levies on Volkswagen vehicles stored at VON have been paid to the NCS (SKD vehicle kits and fully built units). This can be verified by the service.”

The Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Customs Service, Wale Adeniyi, said the affected vehicles had remained under NCS custody because duty was not paid on them.

Adeniyi stated, “There are no separate laws for top government officials or highly-placed Nigerians. The laws are the same for everybody and the laws specify that all imported vehicles attract duty. If duty was not paid, the vehicles cannot be released.”

He, however, added that if the owners paid the required duty, the SUVs would be released.

On the 1,500 vehicles found in the premises of Volkswagen, Adeniyi said, “I do not have details of that development.”

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