- Finally, the federal government has decided to take serious actions against Nigerians who owned private jets in the country
- FG recently directed that the Nigeria Customs seize 91 private jets belonging to some billionaires in the country
- Meanwhile, FG made this new move following an alleged refusal of the billionaires to pay import duties of over N30bn
The federal government has directed the Nigeria Customs Service to ground 91 private jets belonging to some wealthy Nigerians over their alleged refusal to pay import duties running to over N30bn, documents obtained by The Punch have revealed.
As such, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali, (retd.) following a directive from the presidency, has written a letter to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency asking the agencies to ground the affected private jets with immediate effect.
The letter, with reference number NCS/T&T/ACG/042/s.100/VOL.II, which was dated Tuesday, November 2, 2021, was addressed to the Director-General, NCAA, Capt Musa Nuhu.
A copy of the letter, which was obtained by the newspaper, was also addressed and sent to the Managing Director, FAAN, Capt Rabiu Yadudu; and the Managing Director, NAMA, Capt Fola Akinkuotu.
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The letter directed the aviation agency regulator (NCAA), the nation’s airspace management agency (NAMA), and airport management agency (FAAN), to ground the private jets by denying them administrative and operational flight clearances indefinitely.
Findings by the newspaper further revealed that the letters were received by the aviation agencies on Monday, November 8, 2021.
According to documents, the NCS letter to NAMA was delivered with reference code 19755747 by the courier company, while the NCS letter to FAAN was referenced 19755746 by the courier firm.
The NCAA letter read in part:
“The Federal Government in its drive for enhanced revenues has mandated the Nigeria Customs Service to immediately recover from defaulting private aircraft owners the required statutory import duties on their imported aircraft.”
Independent findings revealed that some of the 91 private jets directed to be grounded belong to the senior pastors of some popular Pentecostal churches in the country, some Tier-1 banks with one of the banks owning two upmarket jets, the chief executive officers of some indigenous oil companies, and the chairmen of some Tier-1 banks.
A Customs source privy to the development who pleaded anonymity revealed that:
“The 91 private jets owe import duties in excess of N30bn and the Federal Government has directed that the Customs must recover this money. This is why we have sent demand notices to the private jet owners.”
Recall that the NCS had in March this year embarked on a review of import duties paid on private jets brought into the country since 2006.
However, other private jets whose owners have commenced the process of paying their import duty have been given a 14-day ultimatum to clear the debts, while the list of the 91 private jets whose owners have yet to present themselves for import duty payment has been presented to the aviation agencies by the NCS for the immediate grounding of their flight operations.
According to independent findings, some of the owners of the 91 jets have written protest letters to the NCS, arguing they cannot pay import duties on the planes because the jets are under lease payments.
The Customs, in its response to the letters, queried the rationale for bringing in the planes and allegedly fraudulently exporting them under questionable documentation processes in the past 10 years.
Flight operation suspension
However, in a new twist to the development, there are strong indications that the Ministry of Aviation has directed the NCAA, FAAN and NAMA to suspend the grounding of the flight operations of the affected private jets, according to aviation sources.
Confusion as top official reveals huge pension FG owes closed agencies
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had earlier reported that on Thursday, November 18, the executive secretary of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), Chioma Ejikeme, said that the federal government owes N90 billion in pension arrears.
Ejikeme who was represented by the director of customs, immigration and prisons pension department, Abdallah Abubakar, said the arrears were owed staff in closed up agencies across Nigeria.
It was reported that she made the disclosure at a workshop for pension correspondents in Abuja.