Coalition of Civil Society Organisations of Nigeria (COSCON), yesterday, demonstrated against a proposed duty on old vehicles by Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd).
Ali has since suspended the exercise pending legal consultations.
Regardless, COSON drew members from Campaign for Democracy; Human Rights, Justice and Peace Foundation; the Flagship, Peoples Liberation Initiative, Revolutionary Ambassadors, Action for Socio-political and Economical Change and Enugu Forum of Patriots, among others.
The protesters, dressed in black, carried placards with inscriptions from the Onitsha South mini stadium, Fegge to Customs Zonal Office on Onitsha–Enugu expressway in Onitsha.
Some of their placards read: “Blame your officers not Nigerians”, “Nigerian CSOs condemn Ali’s illegalities”, “Stop the executive recklessness”, and “Hameed Ali is not above the law” , among others. The National Coordinator of COSCON, Mr Noel Udeoji said the group was not against generating revenue for the Federal Government, but against imposition of duty on old vehicles already plying the roads.
Udeoji said it is the responsibility of the NCS to collect duty on imported vehicles from importers at the entry points or car dealers and not buyers or owners of such vehicles. “We condemn in its entirety the recent order that owners of all old vehicles must pay custom duties on or before April 12.
“This is totally unacceptable and, hereby, rejected. We, hereby, call for the resignation or sack of the customs boss”, he said.
President of the Flagship, Omobude Agho described the policy as “obnoxious, evil, demonic and retrogressive”, stressing that “the policy is detrimental to hungry Nigerian masses
“We must remind Ali that we are in democracy and not in military era, and he must learn to respect the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians, more so, when the National Assembly has called him to order.
“He is trying to impose outrageous policy which will only encourage poverty the more”, Agho said. Publicity Secretary of CD, Mr Dede Uzor said CSOs should not fold their arms and allow the Comptroller-General of Customs rip-off Nigerians through such policy.
Uzor disclosed that the protest would be carried out in other states of the country if the policy was not reversed within 48 hours.
The protesters from Edo, Enugu, Rivers, Delta and Anambra states, chanted solidarity songs and were accompanied by security officials.