Why Ali Introduced The e- auction Platform

By Nwangwu Uba

More facts have emerged why Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel,and Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, introduced the e-option platform for the auction of the thousands of condemned vehicles by the Court ofLaw in various Customs Formations across the country.

  This is to ensure transparency, security , increased avenue generation from such vehicles and to remove the vices associated with the previous arrangement where there was no accountability as  auction papers  were allocated to cronies and those who  are connected to top Customs officials including National Assembly members, particular, those on the Committee on Customs, who could give notes to their cronies to give to theComptroller General to be given an auction allocation vehicle, showing that people were treated differently without following laid down procedure laid for such exercise.

 That much was confirmed by Joseph Attah, a Deputy Comptroller and the Customs National Public Relations officer, NPRO. Attah disclosed that in operating the Custom sportal which gives equal access to every Nigeria bidding for the condemned vehicles, the portal opens between Monday, 12 noon and c closes on Wednesday, 12 noon, every week.

He disclosed  that since the introduction of the e-auction platform for disposal of condemned vehicles by the Court of law in 2017, over 800 vehicles have been uploaded noting that 753  winners, across the country have so far emerged and taken delivery of the vehicles won without undue influence from any quarters.

FOU Zone A Impounded Vehichles

 In spite of the claim by the Customs  spokesman that the electronic platform have provided an equal playing ground to every Nigerian and removed the vices associated with the previous arrangement of allocation  auction papers to people without bidding for it, many still see it as a very unpopular policy as it favoured  mostly those who are computer literate and who can read and write.

 Going by the use of the electronic platform, critics believe that the illiterate farmer from the village , who may have wanted to take advantage of the Customs policy to bid for any of the condemned vehicles would have been schemed out.

 It is not surprising why there is pressure on the Customs Comptroller General to abandon the e-auction policy and devise another strategy where people could be allowed to bid for the condemned vehicles openly and winners declared on the spot. 

Some aggrieved Nigerians who spoke to The Value News online disclosed that the e-auction are still subject to abuse by the  Customs Information Communication Technology, ICT, experts who upload it into the service website for bidding by the general public.

In a related development, Kaycee Ekezie, an Assistant Comptroller of Customs and Zonal Coordinator, NCS,  Zone A,comprising of 16 Customs Area Commands at the Airport, seaports and land border stations, in the southwest  has said that the Zone alone,generated  over 90 percent or N1.08trillion of the N1.1 trillion  collected by the Service between January and November , 2018.

 Ekezie who cashed in on the opportunity provided by Attah, the Customs  Spokesman to rub minds with  maritime Journalists in his Zonal office  dis countenanced claims in both official and unofficial circles that the Zone only accounts between 70 percent and 80 percent of Customs yearly revenue generation, insisting that the Zone remains the major revenue generating source of the Customs.

She noted that the Zone could achive this spectacular  record because of the doggedness of the officers, whose efforts in  combatting smugglers both at the seaports andland border stations in Combating smuggling and other port -related offences. The Zonal Coordination cited the anti-smuggling officers of the FederalOperations Unit, FOU, Zone A, who could smash any form of tricks used bysmugglers  to carry out their illegalbusiness at the ports and land order areas. Take for instance, the tramadol drug syndicate, who are prepared to spend any amount to get their import delivered to their warehouse in any part of the country.  This is evident by the recent attempt tobribe Customs  personnel in the chain for  releasing of cargoes  at Apapa port with N100 million and anadditional N50 million, to FOU, Zone A, Operations and Lagos Roving team personnel to keep their eye away when the Consignment would be leaving the apapa port, going by the current exchange rate of over N400.00 to a  United States dollar in the black market.

 Indeed, this is the extent to which drug importers could go to take delivery of their imports at the seaport without obstruction. ”A greedy officer could fall for them to rubbish his career in the Service as Ali, the Customs Comptroller General is notready to spear any officer found Compromising his position to do his job” an officer remarked.

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