Nigerians blast Customs as e-auction begins

Do you think online auction of seized goods by Customs will work?

Following the official launch of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) electronic auction portal by the Comptroller General, Hameed Ali yesterday, many Nigerians and prospective bidders have expressed dissatisfaction over the exercise, saying most of the seized items especially vehicles put up for auction have depreciated and not road worthy.

The auction website as expected was busy as prospective bidders tried to bid for items of their choice but many said they were not impressed with most of the vehicles on display.

One of them, Abdul Mohamad Lamidi who posted his comments on the Customs official facebook page said, “Very poor site, selling a car without giving the year of manufacture, inadequate pictures and details of the car. Besides, the cars on sale are all dead gone. The world is laughing at you all, where are the luxurious cars that were seized on TVs, none of those cars are on sale. You guys are weird, believe me you lack merit.” 

On his part, Abdulahi Rugga wondered why it is only 133 cars that were available for auction.

“Nigeria Customs Service, the online auction is a good idea but I am extremely shocked with what I saw. Are you trying to tell Nigerians that you only have 133 cars for auction and they are all located in Ogun?” he quizzed.

Others who also shared their post said the requirement for bidding is too stringent and would only be met by the elites.

Nurudeen Apena said, “Please try and reduce these conditions. They are too stringent. You need to learn from other nations and adopt the seamless approach they adopt in similar auctions.” 

Another facebook user, Ola Egbeyeni said, “Complex terms. I know it was not meant for common Nigerians. This is a rotational policy made by them for themselves,”

Tunde Yusuf however commended customs for the online auction even as he expressed hope that the process would be transparent. 

He said, “Now the Nigeria Customs Service is waking up gradually when it comes to online platform but we all hope the e-auction portal will be free of corruption. When will the portal for the verification of the authenticity of duty paid on imported vehicles be up?”       

Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali launched the electronic auction portal yesterday while bidding for seized and overtime vehicles started by12noon.

Ali said the launch marked the end of the manual process which had many complaints of fraud.

He said, “What we are doing today is in line with the guidelines of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA). It is therefore my pleasure to formally launch the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) e-auction platform and to wish all bidders good luck.”

He said the upgrade of Customs to an electronic platform auctioning was still in line with the provision of the Section 167 (2) CAP C45 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA).

Ali noted that stakeholders in the past had accused the Service of nepotism, short changing the Government of revenue through arbitrary auction fees to be paid by allottees and sundry corruption allegations caused by the manual process.

“The launching of the e-auction platform today marks complete departure from the manual process of the past that was opened to abuses,” Ali said.

The auction of seized and overtime cargoes was suspended for nearly two years since Ali took over the leadership.

Confirming this, he said, “Since my assumption of duty as the CGC, suspension order was placed on the manual auction to give way to the development of an electronic platform that will be secured, transparent, and capable of increasing revenue as well as providing equal opportunities for all Nigerians who are interested in the process.

A bidder has to log on to the e-auction portal, register with a valid Tax Identification Number (TIN), an email and along with an e-wallet of a bank where the administration fee of N1,000 per bidding will be deducted from.

The bidder can then proceed to bid for not more than two items within 48 hours, while the winner will be contacted by e-mail. Upon confirmation, the winner will be prompted to pay for the item won and then exit the system. 

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