A press statement by the Managing Director of the VON Automobiles, Mr. Tokunbo Aromolaran on Tuesday, 1 November, 2016 said that the company strongly refutes allegations of any economic sabotage or any other form of non-compliance or wrong doing in its business operations.
According to the statement, the Chairman of the Senate Committee, in company of about 30 people comprising senators, officers of Nigerian Customs Service, pressmen and police officers descended on the VON premises on Friday 28 October 2016 without prior notification.
“They were given free access to our plants and warehouses and found nothing other than what you would expect to see in an auto assembly plant - an inventory of vehicles assembled awaiting delivery. We also confirmed that applicable duties were paid at the ports when the components were imported into the country.”
The statement stated further that “VON is a company that has collaborated with several multinational automotive giants in bringing foreign investments and technology into Nigeria, thereby setting the foundation for the country to become the region’s leader in automotive industry.
“Having invested in the largest capacity for assembly of vehicles in Nigeria, VON prides itself as a responsible and committed organisation, sincerely dedicated to the country’s economic development.
“Governed by a strict compliance framework and business ethics, VON has not and never will engage in any activity that would sabotage the economy in any manner whatsoever.
“The Volkswagen assembly plant is a duly licensed facility, approved by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the National Automotive Council, Ministry of Trade and Industry and other relevant authorities. The plant has been inspected several times by Federal Government officials, National Automotive Council, SON Nigeria and others from time to time.
“The plant marked the historic return of the global auto major Volkswagen to Nigeria after several years. VON has been a pioneer in supporting the Federal Government’s objectives in establishing Nigeria as the regional hub for the automotive industry.
”The assembly plant operations were duly audited and approved by the Volkswagen team from Germany, prior to the commencement of assembly.
”The company’s personnel employed in the facility are fully trained (at Volkswagen Germany and Lagos) technically to assemble vehicles in Nigeria, in accordance with established international standards applicable to Volkswagen worldwide.”
The statement faulted the claim that the reference made in media reports to a large number of vehicles in the assembly plant is a standard practice in any automobile plant everywhere in the world.
“As an auto assembly operation, this is what one would expect to find. In line with the auto policy, we imported semi-knocked-down parts and have engaged hundreds of Nigerians who are engaged in assembling same to fully built units. All applicable duties and levies on Volkswagen vehicles stored at VON have been paid to the Nigeria Customs (SKD vehicle kits and fully built units). This can be verified by the Nigerian Customs Service.