- Private jet owners in Nigeria have sued the federal government for wanting to tax them on the jets
- About 17 jet owners in the country went to court to determine if they should pay the imposed duty tax
- The jets belong to top pastors, business people, commercial banks and other wealthy Nigerians
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Business moguls, top commercial banks and other wealthy Nigerians with foreign registered private jets have taken the federal government to court to stop it from grounding their aircraft for refusing to pay import duty on the jets.
In November last year, the Nigerian government approved a decision by the Nigeria Customs Service to stop 91 private jets belonging to wealthy Nigerians from flying over their alleged refusal to pay N30 billion in import duty.
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A presidential directive mandated Nigeria Customs to ask the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to ground the affected private jets.
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The directive was not adhered to over alleged inter-agency rivalry.
Punch reports that Customs has been making surreptitious moves to begin grounding the private jets whose owners did not pay the import duty.
Findings revealed that about 17 private jet owners had gone to court to stop the Nigerian government from going ahead with the order.
They are seeking judicial review of the integrity of the order.
The owners used foreign shell firms and trustees to sue the Nigerian government.
Private jet owners usually use corporate bodies to acquire their foreign-registered private jets.
Findings show that the jet owners approached the Federal High Court Abuja, asking the court to determine if they were liable to pay the import duty.
Top private jet owners revealed
As per the court document, 17 applicants comprising foreign companies of the Nigerian jet owners include Aircraft Trustee, Masjetjet AVIACAO, Executive SA, and Cloud Services Limited.
Others are MHS Aviation GmbH, Murano Trust Company Limited, Panther Jets, SAIB LLC, Empire Aviation Group and Osa Aviation Limited.
The rest are BUA Delaware Inc, Flying Bull Corporation Limited, Air Charter, Sparfell Luftahrt, GmbH, WAT Aviation Limited, and ATT Aviation Limited.
NCS, in a letter, questioned the rationale for bringing aircraft into Nigeria and allegedly exporting them under alleged fraudulent means through doubtful documentation processes in the last decade.
Jet owners speak
The aircraft owners, led by the President of the Association of Private Aircraft Owners Association, Alex Nwuba said there is a need for the federal government to be transparent in the registration process of aircraft in the country.
Nwuba, a pilot and an erstwhile managing director of Associated Airlines, said the duty price might be one factor preventing some private jet owners from paying the duty.
Some of the 91 private jets meant to be grounded belong to the senior pastors of some famous Pentecostal churches in the country, some Tier-1 banks with one of the banks owning two upmarket jets, the CEOs of some indigenous oil companies, and the chairmen of some Tier-1 banks.
Atiku Abubakar, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Orji Kalu, and 2 other Nigerian politicians who own private jets
Legit.ng reported that the luxury of owning a private jet or any form of an aircraft for personal use is regarded worldwide as a sign of true wealth, and in Nigeria, this ideal is also valid.
A large portion of Nigerian society believes that politicians are the wealthiest people in the country.
However, it would be wrong to sell the idea that all politicians only became rich after going into politics. But there is no denying that some of the wealthiest individuals in the country are politicians.