SAN wins case against Nigeria customs, awarded N5m damages

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Kehinde Ogunwumiju, has been awarded the sum of N5million damages by Justice J. T. Tsoho of Federal High Court, Abuja, against the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

The plaintiff, Ogunwumiju had approached the court through his counsel, Tunde Adejumo, instituted the suit (FHC/ABJ/CS/1113/2019) after officers of the NSC demanded and collected import duty and other related charges from him in respect of his personal effect (a Louis Vuitton laptop bag) found in his baggage at Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja on June 24, 2019.

In the suit, the SAN argued that pursuant to the provisions of section 8 of the Customs, Excise Tariff, etc. (Consolidation) Act and the 2nd Schedule to the Customs, Excise Tariff, etc. (Consolidation) Act, it was unlawful for the NCS to have collected N156, 955. 20k as import duty on his personal items.

However, the judge, Justice Tsoho delivering the judgment held that the customs ought not to charge import duty on goods contained in a passenger’s baggage, provided that the said goods are not intended for sale, barter or exchange, and that they are personal and household effects.

The judge also held the plaintiff (Ogunwumiju) established evidence to show that the items found in his baggage by the officers of the NCS were meant for his personal use.

“The defendants having failed to establish via evidence that the said bag found in the Plaintiff’s baggage was meant for sale, exchange or barter, there was no legal basis upon which the officers of the Nigerian Customs Service demanded and collected import duty and other related charges from the plaintiff in respect of the said bag,” he said.

The judge, ruling on the case, ordered the NCS to refund the N156, 955. 20k collected as import duty to Ogunwumiju.

Furthermiore, Justice Tsoho also ordered the NSC to pay N5 million as exemplary damages to the plaintiff.

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