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21.01.2021 news Confessions of a Togolese Car Dealer: Your Overpriced ‘Tokunbo’ Car May Have Been Roughly Used in Lagos

Published 21st Jan, 2021

By Damilola Ayeni

Car dealers sell locally-used vehicles to unsuspecting buyers as foreign-used with the help of devious officials of the Motor Vehicle Administration Agency (MVAA), a Togolese resident in the Yaba area of Lagos has alleged.

Many car buyers may have returned home with locally-used cars after paying a supersized sum for an imported auto. And not even at the point of registration would the true status of such cars be revealed.

After driving a car for a stretch of time and realising that it is still in good physical shape, some Lagos users approach a dealer to help sell at ‘tokunbo’ price. The Togolese dealer, who doesn’t want to be named, said Nigerians go the extra length of repainting such cars and steam-washing the engine to make them more appealing to prospective buyers.

“People sell locally-used cars as ‘tokunbo’ in this country,” he told FIJ. “They bring them to us to help facilitate the process. While dealers sell at the intended price, they let buyers know that the car doesn’t belong to them.”

Second-hand cars popularly known as ‘tokunbo’ dominate Nigeria’s import market, as only a small fraction of the country’s 180million population can afford brand-new automobiles. Dealers buy cars from US and European users who, courtesy of good roads and a deeply engrained maintenance culture, are able to preserve the physical and mechanical wellness of their cars for a long time.

It is with the prospect of getting one of such imported hand-me-down autos that Nigerians visit the hundreds of car shops scattered all over Lagos and then slip into the waiting hands of untruthful sellers.

On why the status of such cars is not revealed at the registration point, the Togolese dealer said sellers connive with officials of MVAA to remove the details from the agency’s database.

“They meet MVAA officials who remove the car details from the database beforehand,” he said.

Every Lagos resident is mandated to visit the Motor Vehicle Administration Agency for registration after the purchase a new automobile. The process, which culminates in the issuance of a number plate, entails the submission of important car details including chassis and engine number. Naturally, this information enters the agency’s database and means that the same car can’t be registered twice as newly-imported.

But corrupt officials rid the system of car data for a stash of naira.

Across the country, there have been instances of people putting together a lot of money to acquire a car only to find out its terrible mechanical state later. Often, such cars become grounded, and when a loan is involved, owners develop serious health challenges like high blood pressure and stroke.

Asked why there has to be an understanding that the dealer isn’t the real owner of the car he is selling, the Togolese source said there are laws in the Car Dealers Association against such vicious acts among members.

“You can’t claim to be the seller of such a car because of sanctions from the Car Dealer Association. If anything goes wrong, the responsibility is on the owner. Dealers only play the role of a middleman. But I don’t do it”.

FIJ sent an email to the MVAA for comments but it hasn’t been replied yet.

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Published 21st Jan, 2021

By Damilola Ayeni

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