Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) on MondayÂ kick-started the auction of seized goods in its various warehouses spread across the country electronically, the Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) has said.
Ali, who unveiled the e-auction platform in Abuja, stated that the system would confer the seal of transparency on the auctioning of goods seized by the NCS.
However, under the arrangement, only interested members of the public with Tax Identification Number (TIN) from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) are eligible to bid in the e-auction process .
The platform, which is highly interactive will only give access to holders of TIN, as such taxpayers will log in, read the guidelines, pay a non-refundable N1,000 auction fee and proceed to bid for the items on auction.
The CGC assured the public that the auction of seized goods would no longer be business as usual, adding that in the past, it was subjective.
Ali said in the past, those who benefitted from the exercise often did so at the discretion of the customs authorities.
â€œThe launching of the e-auction platform today marks a complete departure from the manual process of the past that was opened to abuses.
â€œIn the past, stakeholders 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 against the service.
â€œConsequently, since my assumption of duty as the CGC, suspension order was placed on the manual auction to give way to development of an electronic platform that will be secured, transparent, capable of increasing revenue, as well as, providing equal opportunities for all Nigerians who are interested in the process.
â€œItâ€™s been a long walk to an era of a system that will ensure transparency and accountability in such a way that leaves nobody in doubt that NCS has the capacity to discharge its responsibilities with utmost sincerity,â€ he said.
According to him, the e-auction committee comprised officials from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), among others.
Meanwhile, the NCS said in a statement on its website that the portal has fully networked to designated banks to ensure money accruing from the auction gets to the CBN via the Treasury Single Account (TSA) for transparency and accountability.
The auction committee, the statement added, has been directed to ensure that only proper pictures of the goods as well as detailed information about each are uploaded to avoid and misgiving.
Only interested members of the public with TIN from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) are to bid in the e-auction process.
â€œThe platform which is highly interactive will only give access to holders of TIN. Such tax payers will log in, read the guidelines, pay the non refundable one thousand auction fee and proceed to bid for the items on auction,â€œ the NCS said.