Two years after it suspended the auction of seized goods, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said it has introduced a new electronic auction portal to dispose of seized items at its commands across the country.
Customs Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah, who confirmed the development exclusively to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY, said the e-auction portal, which is undergoing acceptability test, would be open to the public soon.
He said only taxpayers with Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) issued Tax Identification Number (TIN) will be eligible to participate in the auction.
“We are going to start this process very soon. The portal has been developed and it is undergoing user acceptability test. So that is why we have started talking about it now to create awareness and sensitization. If you wait until the day they deploy it and you announce it people will not know that they are suppose to get their Tax Identification Number (TIN) number ready.
“So anybody who is interested should go to Federal Inland Revenue and get your their TIN number ready because any moment from now, we will start,” he said.
Part of the guidelines contained in the new e-auction portal requires applicants to input recent passport photo with a payment of non-refundable administrative fee of N1, 000.
Aside TIN number by prospective bidders, other terms and conditions includes exclusion of customs officers and their families from participating in the bidding process either directly or by proxy.
The guidelines also indicate that auctioned items cannot be replaced or funds paid refunded to bidders.
Successful bidders are expected to make payments within five working days as auctioned items whose winners fail to pay within the period forfeit the auctioned item to the second highest bidder.
Successful bidders will be given a period of 14 days from the date of payment to remove the item bidded for or forfeit it at expiration of the period.
“Any auctioned item not removed from the warehouse within 14 days from the date of payment shall revert to its pre-bidding status which makes such item open for sale again.
“Winners in the auction process are also expected to pay 25 percent of the auction amount to the terminal operator with another 25 percent of the auction amount to the shipping line operator.
“Owners of seized items are excluded from bidding for them but may however participate in the bidding of other items while owners of overtime items with evidence of payment of duty and other charges have priority over a successful bidder of the item provided the item has not been exited out of the Customs control.
The new e- auction portal is expected to reduce congestion in the various government warehouses and increase customs revenue.
Attah said the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, introduced the process as a way of enhancing transparency, reduce human contact and ensure that only the highest bidders for any auctioned item takes it.
The e-auction portal is coming barely a week after the House of Representatives directed its committee on Customs and Excise to investigate the failure of NCS to auction confiscated goods.
The decision was taken following the adoption of a motion sponsored by a member from Abia, Prestige Ossy.
The lawmaker said it was worrisome that since an action ban took effect in 2015, it had resulted in the proliferation of seized goods at various formations of the NCS.
“Most of these goods, especially the vehicles with DPV worth over N6 billion, are rapidly depreciating. The Customs service will eventually spend huge amount of money in disposing them when it ought to have generated huge revenue for the government by auctioning them before they wither away.
“The failure to auction goods in its custody had denied the Federal Government over N1 trillion, which ought to accrue to it from the auctioning of those goods,” he said.
Following the adoption of the motion, the House directed its Committee on Customs and Excise to investigate and report back in eight weeks.