The Nigerian High Commission in Northumberland Avenue in London owes a total of £6,481,620 in congestion charge fines to Transport for London, covering the period from when the charge was introduced in February 2003 until 31 December 2016.
They also owe local authorities in London (mostly Westminster Council) outstanding fines from 2016, totalling £30,024 as of 28 June 2017.
The congestion charge is a fee charged on most vehicles operating within the Congestion Charge Zone in central London between 07:00 and 18:00 Mondays to Fridays, with the exception of public holidays.
It is unclear whether President Muhammadu Buhari’s extended stay in the UK this year for medical reasons, with the requirement to ferry him and his entourage around in the heart of London, contributed to a rise in the outstanding debt. However, it is unlikely that the British authorities would get the debt repaid soon, especially with reports that staff on Nigerian missions abroad are owed salaries.
The amounts owed in parking fines and the congestion charge were revealed by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in a statement to Parliament yesterday. The minister wrote: “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has held meetings with a number of missions about outstanding parking fine debt, outstanding national non-domestic rates payments and unpaid congestion charge debt. The director of protocol raises the issue in his introductory meetings with all new ambassadors and high commissioners whose missions are in debt to the relevant authorities. FCO officials also press diplomatic missions and international organisations to pay outstanding fines and debts. In April this year, protocol directorate wrote to diplomatic missions and international organisations concerned giving them the opportunity to either pay their outstanding debts, or appeal against specific fines if they considered that they had been issued incorrectly”.
In terms of unpaid parking fines, Nigeria is second only to South Sudan, who owe £83,215. While Nigeria comes third on the league table of congestion charge defaulters behind the US, with £ 11,544,455 in debts, and Japan, who owe £7,629,370.