Customs: Committee Fast Tracks The Auctioning Of Condemned goods

By Nwangwu Uba

More facts  have emerged  why Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, may have jettisoned the  auctioning of Condemned vehicles through online to direct  sales to the public. This is because of low patronage through the online sales and the desire  to give opportunity to Nigerians from all walks of life to participate  in bidding for the Condemned  items slated for auctioning this time around.

Many  believe that before Ali, the Customs  Comptroller General and the management adopted the online approach  to auction the slated vehicles  for sale, he may have been brain washed by  the Customs cabal who were benched  by Abdullahi Dikko , the former Comptroller general , as a way of ensuring their views prevail under the current  management. They had their way.

Barely two years, after tinkering  with the online option auctioning arrangement of the condemned vehicles in all Customs formations across the  country, the Customs  boss may have seen the  need to revert to the old arrangement used by previous Comptroller Generals  to dispose such condemned vehicles notwithstanding the allegations of fraud  associated  with it, because of its simplicity.

Under the new arrangement, Ali, was said to have  extended the auctioning  exercise to other condemned perishable items like foreign parboiled rice and processed vegetable oil among others.

Investigations by The Value News  Magazine shows that  virtually all the Customs warehouses across the country  have scores of condemned vehicles , foreign parboiled rice and vegetable oil  including second hand clothing begging for evacuation to create space for additional  condemned goods. From Federal  Operations Units, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos,  Zone B, Kaduna,  Zone C,  Owerri, Seme,Ogun, Oyo/Osun, Sokoto/Kebbi/Zamfara to Kano/Jigawa warehouses , the story is the same:  warehouses filled with condemned goods.

The situation is more worrisome at FOU, Zone A, mechanical workshop turned warehouse where there are  virtually no space to accommodate additional condemned vehicles or Containerised cargoes. It was a pity as the Customs Comptroller General struggled to move round the warehouse recently to see things himself.

Prior to the Customs helmsman  visit to the Customs Command, a,  visitor to the warehouse had complained  of  lack of space to keep additional condemned items  and the need for the management to find a way to decongest it.

There had been several  abandoned 40ft Containers  and fairly used vehicles which had been at the warehouse over the years  and which had been overgrown by weeds.

The Customs Comptroller General may have  had the impression that  the Customs warehouses which are  filled  with Condemned vehicles and other items would be decongested with the online auctioning arrangement and the evacuation of the perishable items such as rice, processed vegetable oil , secondhand clothing and other items  to the Internally Displaced People, IDP, Camps in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Edo states. He got it wrong.

The situation was said to have  been made worse as the governors in the  IDP Camp states found  it difficult to  mobilise  transport facilities  to evacuate their perishable items allocations from the Customs warehouses.

The governors, according to sources, had expected the Customs boss to mobilize the trucks that could transport the items to the IDP  Camps, in their states being a Federal government pet project.

The  Magazine cited  two of the trucks  loaded with rice at the FOU, Zone A, second warehouse, which had not been evacuated  to its IDP  Camp location. It was learnt that the trucks had been there  for  the past five months begging the states  involved  to remove them to create space in the warehouse.

The refusal of the states to take advantage of  the President Muhammadu Buhari magnanimity to evacuate the allocations ,may have forced  Ali, the Customs Comptroller General to seek higher powers of approval to auction the condemned items to the public.

As a prelude to the auctioning of the Condemned  items to the public, the Customs Comptroller  General, was said  to have set up a Committee  headed by an Assistant Comptroller General to oversee the exercise. The members of the Committee are expected to move from one Customs formation warehouse to the other to ensure  transparency.

Mohammed Aliyu: Comptroller, FOU, Zone A

Mohammed Aliyu and Muhammmed Ubah Garba, Comptrollers, FOU, Zone A and  Seme Command respecctively,  were said to have prepared themselves  to receive the  Committee members. The duo who are thorough with their job were said to  have taken   inventory of the  Condemned vehicles and other  perishable items in their warehouses to avoid being caught unawres.

At FOU, Zone A, Command, notwithstanding , the number of Condemned vehicles and perishable items  in its warehouses,  the Magazine  gathered that an additional 30 vehicles had been condemned by the Court as well as other perishable items seized  by the Command  Operations and Lagos Roving team, headed by Riks Lura, a Chief Superintendent  of Customs and the Headquarters south-west Strike Force  headed by Salisu Shuaibu, an Assistant Comptroller. The Command Strike Force and  the Rapid Response  team were also said to have made resonable seizures of  foreign parboiled rice and vehicles , which had been condemned by the Court and deposited  in the warehouses.

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