Punishment for driving without a License in Nigeria – Custom and Excise Offences:Consequences and Punishment.
One of the clearest stamps of a country`s sovereignty is a clear definition, delineation and control of its borders. Ancillary to this control is a regulation of the goods and services which pour in and out over those borders.
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This regulation is indeed critical not just to the economy of the country but in the well-being of its citizens who eventually consume the goods that come in.
In an era of heightened security concerns from internal and external dissident groups, the need for this kind of regulation and vigilance is even more critical.
In Nigeria, the Customs and Excise Management Act and a slew of appurtenant legislations seek to regulate custom and excise.
Definition of Custom
The 7th Edition of the Oxford Advanced Learner `s Dictionary, International Student`s Edition, at page 361, defines “Customs and Excise” thus:
“The government department that collects taxes on goods bought and sold and on goods brought into the country, and that checks what is brought in Or the taxes that must be paid to the government when goods are brought in from other countries.”
The Deluxe Ninth Edition of the Black`s Law Dictionary, at page 441 says of “Customs”:
“Duties imposed on imports or exports; the agency or procedure used for collecting such duties ”
The New International Webster`s Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language (Deluxe Encyclopedic Edition) at page 318 defines “Custom” thus:
“ A tariff or duty assessed by law ,levied upon goods imported or exported ,hence any regular toll or tax”
Custom offences in Nigeria
The strength of every law is usually resident in the sanctions it can impose when it is breached. Expectedly, the Customs and Excise Management Act, the Custom and Excise Management (Disposal of Goods)Act, the Customs, Excise Tarriff , etc.(Consolidation)Act and the Custom and Excise (Special Penal and Other Provisions) Act contain provisions which include penal provisions to keep a check on the goods which flow in and out of Nigeria.
The Customs and Excise Management Act
The Customs and Excise Management Act has as its preamble “An Act to regulate the management and collection of duties of customs and excise, for purposes ancillary thereto.”
Section 7 of the Act provides the first offence in the Act. The section seeks to protect all information and documents supplied or produced in pursuance of any requirement of the customs and excise laws as confidential and punishes offenders with a fine of two hundred naira or to imprisonment for six months or both.
Section 8 of the Act gives the officers the power of police officers in carrying out their duties. It provides thus:
“For the purpose of carrying out or enforcing the provisions of the customs and excise laws ,all officers shall have the same powers, authorities and privileges as are given by law to police officers.”
Section 10 of the Act proscribes the unlawful assumption of character of officer. It provides thus:
“If, for the purpose of obtaining admission to any building or place or to any ship, aircraft or vehicle, or of doing or procuring to be done any act which he would not be entitled to do or procure to be done of his own authority, or for any other unlawful purpose, any person not being an officer, assumes the name, designation or character of an officer, he shall in addition to any other punishment to which he may have rendered himself liable ,be liable to a fine of one thousand naira or imprisonment for two years or both.”
Section 11 of the Act proscribes the obstruction of officers. It provides thus:
“If any person:
a. Obstructs, hinders, molests or assaults any person duly engaged in the performance of any duty or the exercise of any power imposed or conferred on him by the customs and excise laws, or any person acting in his aid ;or
b. Does anything which impeded or is intended to impede the carrying out of any search for anything liable to forfeiture under the customs and excise laws or the detention, seizure or removal of any such thing; or
c. Rescues, damages or destroys anything so liable to forfeiture or does anything intended to prevent the procuring or giving of evidence as to whether or not anything is so liable to forfeiture; or
d. Prevents the arrest of any person by a person duly engaged or acting as aforesaid or rescues any person so arrested
e. He shall be liable to a fine of one thousand naira or to imprisonment for two years or both.
Read Also: Punishment For Corruption Under Nigerian Law
Section 46 of the Act provides for the forfeiture of goods improperly imported. It provides thus:
a. Except as provided by or under this Act, any imported goods, being goods chargeable with a duty of customs, are without payment of that duty landed or unloaded in Nigeria, or removed from their place of importation or from any approved wharf, examination station, customs station or customs area;or
b. Any goods are imported, landed or unloaded contrary to any prohibition; or
c. Any goods, being goods chargeable with any duty or goods the importation of which is prohibited, are found, whether before or after the unloading thereof, to have been concealed in any manner on board any ship or aircraft or in any vehicle; or
d. Any goods are imported concealed in a container holding good of a different description; or
e. Any imported goods are concealed or packed in any manner appearing to be intended to deceive an officer; or
f. Any imported goods are found ,whether before or after delivery ,not to correspond with the entry made thereof
g. Those goods shall be forfeited.
Section 47 of the Act provides the penalty for improper importation of goods, etc. It provides thus:
1. If any person:
a. lands or unloads in Nigeria, or removes from their place of importation or from any approved wharf, examination station, customs station or customs area-
i. any goods chargeable with a duty which has not been paid; or
ii. any goods imported contrary to any prohibition whether or not the goods are loaded or unloaded, then, if he does so with intent to evade any such duty or prohibition ,he shall be sentenced to imprisonment for five years without the option of a fine.
2. If any person:
a. imports or causes to be imported goods concealed in a container holding goods of a different description; or
b. directly or indirectly imports or causes to be imported or entered any goods found ,whether before or after delivery, not to correspond with the entry delivered thereof ,he shall be sentenced to imprisonment for five years without the option of fine.
Section 63 of the Act provides for the forfeiture of goods improperly exported.
Section 64 provides that the penalty for improper exportation of goods shall be imprisonment for a five years without the option of fine.
Section 77 of the Act provides for penalty for signaling to smugglers. It provides thus:
“Any person who by any means makes any signal or transmits any message from any part of Nigeria or like from any ship or aircraft for the information of a person in any ship or aircraft or across the frontier, being a signal or message connected with the unlawful importation or exportation of goods into or out of Nigeria, whether or not the person for whom the signal or message is intended is in a position to receive it or is engaged at the time in unlawful importing or exporting of goods, shall be liable to a fine of two hundred naira or to imprisonment for two years ,or to both , and any equipment or apparatus used for sending the signal or message shall be forfeited.
Section 98 of the Act provides for the general offences relating to warehouses and Government warehouses.
Section 101 stipulates offences in connection with removal of spirits from the premises of a spirits manufacture. It punishes them with a fine six times the value of the goods or four hundred naira,whichever is greater, or to imprisonment for two years, or to both.
Section 103 provides that the penalty for unlawful manufacture of spirits is a fine of two thousand naira or forfeiture.
Section 113 provides for offences that could be committed by brewers. It punishes them with a fine of two hundred naira and forfeiture or one hundred naira and forfeiture.
Section 135 of the Act forbids the removal of goods from entered premises without payment of excise duties. It punishes the offence with a fine six times the value of the goods or four hundred naira whichever is greater and forfeiture.
Section 165 of the Customs and Excise Management Act provides punishment where offenders are armed or disguised. It provides thus:
“Any person :
a. Who, while concerned in the commission of any offence against the customs and excise laws, is armed with any offensive weapon ;and
b. So armed found in Nigeria in possession of any goods liable to forfeiture under the customs laws, shall be liable to imprisonment for ten years.
The Customs and Excise (Special Penal and Other Provisions) Act.
This Act has as its preamble “An Act to make special provisions with respect to the disposal of goods forfeited under customs and excise laws.
Section 1 of the Act provides that forfeited goods shall be destroyed.
Section 3 of the Act criminalizes the possession of smuggled goods and punishes it with one year imprisonment without the option of fine.
a. A misdemeanor is a crime that is not considered to be very serious. It is usually punishable by fine, penalty, forfeiture, or confinement usually for a brief time in a place other than a prison.
b. A felony is a serious crime usually punishable by imprisonment for more than a year or by death. Examples include burglary, arson, rape, and murder.
c. The law seeks to regulate the influx of goods in and out of Nigeria.
d. The law seeks to protect and guarantee the integrity of the goods which flow into Nigeria
e. The law seeks to bolster the economy of Nigeria by customs.
a. That as a Nigerian citizen under Sections 25,26 or 27 of the 1999 Constitution, your fundamental rights are guaranteed under Sections 33 to 46 of the same Constitution.
b. That the Constitution guarantees you equal rights, obligations, opportunities and easy accessibility to court under Section 17.
c. That com works with a team of lawyers to inform you of your rights, obligations and opportunities under the law.
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