Civil servants urge Customs to suspend flawed e-auction

Hameed Ali

Civil servants in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Wednesday called on the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to suspend its ongoing e-auction following difficulties and inability of many of them to access the auction platform.

They said the suspension would enable the Federal Inland Revenue service (FIRS) to integrate the Joint Tax Board (JTB) Tax Identification Number (TIN) in the system.

A cross section of the workers told journalists that the JTB TIN, which was mostly used by civil servants, was not being accepted by the Customs e-auction platform.

According to them, this makes it difficult for JTB TIN users to participate in the excise.

”So there is need to suspend the ongoing exercise to enable FIRS to integrate JTB TIN into Customs e-auction platform to give all Nigerians equal opportunity,” they said.

One of the workers, Solomon Oluwaseun, said it was unfortunate that he had not been able to participate in the bidding for vehicles and other items even as a registered tax payer.

Oluwaseun said he visited the JTB office in Asokoro, FCT, with some of his colleagues but were told that nothing was wrong with their TIN.

“Customs should suspend the e-auction portal until it can verify the TIN of all legitimate tax payer, including the civil servants.

“We are all Nigerians and we all have equal rights as tax payers to participate in this customs e-auction platform,” he said.

Another civil servant, Mrs Florence Okeke, also complained of the same challenge, which she had already lodged with the JTB.

“I learnt that the NCS portal only verifies the old FIRS TIN and those issued to private companies. This is unfair,” Okeke said.

She urged the FIRS to collect taxes and also ensure that the taxpayers benefited from public activities such as the e-auction.

“We as Nigerians all need to do the right thing at the right time,” she added.

According to Mrs Elizabeth Aleburu, “I think FIRS and Customs need to work together and rectify this pending issues of JTB TIN.”

Suleiman Abdullahi asked, “Is it right that as a taxpayer, I cannot participate in the ongoing Customs e-auction for no fault of mine?”

Abdullahi said that he had tried to use his JTB TIN to register right from the first batch of the bidding process but yet no success.

“I think this is the issue of the FIRS and the JTB; they need to integrate into Customs portal for all civil servants with JTB TIN to be able to participate.

“FIRS, JTB and Customs need to work together fast to ensure that civil servants with JTB TIN get to participate before the end of the second batch of the bidding process,” he said.

Responding, Customs Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah, said that the issue of civil servants not being able to register with their JTB TIN was the issue of FIRS, not Customs.

Attah said that was the reason the NCS had been announcing all the while the e-auction portal could only be accessed with only FIRS TIN.

“They should sort themselves out with the FIRS because once FIRS TIN is synchronised with Customs portal, that is all.

“We said TIN from FIRS is what our platform accepts. Thus, this is not Customs issue but FIRS,” Attah said. 

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