By Foster Obi
Nigerian Customs Service e-Auction introduced by the government revenue generating agency to dispose confiscated items may be suffering from credibility gap as most Nigerians do not have confidence in the process.
Feelers by DFC News shows this lack of trust may not be unconnected with corruption tag which has been fastened on the agency over the years.
Some Nigerians who expressed their mind on the issue said that because of what they know about the Nigeria Customs Service, it will be difficult to believe that they can conduct a corrupt free exercise.
Some of those who had followed the auction process since it was launched in 2017 took to their X handle to bare their mind.
Oladapo Akintelure said, “Let me tell you what happens after winning the auction and paying statutory fees stated in the instructions . . . You will bribe every desk. From PRO office, to Bond Office to releasing officer. Every desk you will pay from 30k to 50k. If you do not pay, they won’t release d car.
Nchekube Ezenyimulu said, “You guys are interested in non refundable fee of 1,000. All the valuable items has been taken away by you guys. That’s why you decided to inform the general public about the auction that started since 15th of January 2024.today is 26th. Corrupt nation
“Tayo @Tbouy, wrote, “As an individual I do not pay taxes to FIRS so why would their TIN be a requirement for me to participate
Sarah Isaacs in her own case was being moralistic, “Return people’s goods you seized, it’s contra-band, it cannot be imported, but you want to sell it to your people to use in the same country that stopped the usage.
“So painful, so many people died of heart break, some committed suicide bcos their goods were seized. Whole life savings plus loans, they died not knowing where to start from. Customs is here sharing peoples sweat for free all in the name of auction sales. Is that the only penalty,” she added.
“Nur’Olaide Adesoye, said, “Na everybody get TIN from FIRS? Una no wan auction for common people jhor.
Another interested party, Easy system@Olasquare14, wrote, “Pay 1k non refundable, then u no go see anything buy, how many people will pay this money and they won’t get that service in good shape. Make una no dey lie to us.
Benny B said, “People have allotted papers already, and Customs are just making it public.
Awosanya Remilekun wrote, “I tried to participate using my TAX ID as an individual, but it was not successful/enabled. Or is it meant for only a company holder?
King Echo, said, “I sent an email to complaint since over 1 week,no response. Instead of auctioning why not give the owners there property. The contraband you alleged will be auctioned and still used in same country.
Kofoworola@izzyaccessblog case was more of a question, “Can you swe@r that your people haven’t taken the best of the cars? This isn’t an accusation, just to clear people’s doubts.
For Wasini E. Allen, his own was more of appeal as the process may not be transparent as he suspects. “Please kindly intervene, I am not able to register even with a valid TIN. During registration the portal displays a message that the TIN has already been used. When I opt for forgot password it says I have not paid administrative charge. I still cannot register please help.”
Meanwhile the Nigeria Customs Services says its electronic auction (e-auction) platform has been pgraded to make it more secure.
The revamped portal according to the Service was launched on January 16, 2024.
Abdullahi Maiwada, national public relations officer of customs said that the upgrade was needed to address “some deformities” noticed in the old version.
“It’s an upgrade of what we have started [with]. When we started, we started with some deformities,” he said.
“This is an upgraded version. We tried to make it better, make it more robust, and secure and make sure that some of the errors we detected during the earlier process is revamped. We’re trying to do it in a better way.”
The NCS started the auction in 2017 to decongest its warehouses. The customs suspended the exercise a few weeks after commencement after “fraudsters hacked into the system”.
However, the electronic auction of vehicles resumed on the agency’s portal in 2020.
Speaking on the revamped portal in a statement on Friday, Maiwada said the upgraded portal was designed to provide Nigerians with an equal opportunity to participate in the agency’s auction activity.
“This strategic move aligns with the guidelines outlined in the newly enacted Nigeria Customs Service Act, 2023, showcasing the agency’s dedication to efficiency and fairness,” he said.
“The new platform, accessible at auction.nigeriatradehub.gov.ng, is an upgraded version of the previous portal designed to provide Nigerians with an equal opportunity to participate.”
Maiwada said since its relaunch, the platform has recorded impressive results, which include: 1,137 bids; 1,099 registered applicants, 652 successfully paid administration fees, 100 vehicles uploaded on the window, and 86 vehicles bid and won.
He said the auctions would be held periodically to provide opportunities for interested bidders to bid on their desired items.
“Subsequently, winners are required to present the certificate where the goods were domiciled, and the clearance process is expected to be done within seven days,” Maiwada said.
“It is also pertinent to note that the auctions are periodic and open every Tuesday from 12 noon to 6 pm, providing the public with regular opportunities to select and bid for desired items.”
Maiwada also encouraged interested participants to visit the NCS website for comprehensive details and guidelines on the e-auction process.
He also acknowledged the occasional glitches reported by participants but said a dedicated technical team is actively addressing the situation.
“We assure the public that initial issues will be swiftly resolved to ensure a seamless experience in all subsequent exercises,” Maiwada said.
The customs spokesperson said the service remains committed to transparency, accessibility, and public engagement through its revamped e-auction platform.
He added that this would foster a fair and efficient process for the disposal of seized and overtime goods.