The Value News

revenue: How Customs Generated Over N150 Million from The E-Auction Of Overtime Cargo At The Ports And Bonded Terminals In Two Weeks

 By Stephen Ubanna

When the Management of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS,  Headed, by  Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel  gave approval for the reopening of  the service  electronic  auction  portal for interested  bidders  to  log in  for the overtime cargoes of their choice,  people had feared that  it might be abused. They have their reason. This is because of the complaints that had characterized a similar exercise in the past.

Joseph Attah, a Deputy Comptroller and Customs Spokesperson, had issued a Statement on Friday, August 28, 2020, stating  the successful bidders were those  who have emerged from the bidding of  the 314 overtime Cargoes were earmarked for auction on Auction in a Statement  on August 10, 2020.

 The  items which were  selected for online sale were said to be  scattered  at the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tin can Island,  kirikiri Lighter Terminal,KLT,  Phases I&II,  Ikorodu Lighter Terminal, IKLT, and the south east ports of Port Harcourt Area I, Onne, Rivers Port, Delta port, Warri and the port of Calabar, Cross river state  including  the bonded termnals.

Hameed Ali: CG, Customs

 Other  items that were said to have been   listed in the Customs portal for  the e-auction, were the seized and condemned  vehicles,  at the Federal Operations Units, FOUs, premises  and Government Warehouses, across the country. The Customs  Authorities  may have seen the  e-auction exercise as a way of  decongesting, particular, the Lagos , ports, of Apapa and Tin can Island, which had been battling  with high  yard occupancy rate due to the presence  of several abandoned cargoes over the years. The S Authorities were said to have provided three bidding windows for the e-auction of the  overtime cargo and condemned vehicles.

Prior to the emergence of the successful bidders in the e-auction of the overtime cargo,  Attah, the Customs Spokesperson, at the instance of Ali, the  Comptroller General, had issued a Statement that ‘’interested  bidders must have  valid Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, Tax  Identification  Number, popular, TIN, to be able to participate on the link, app.trade.gov.ng/e-auction’’.

The Service was said to have collected N1,000.00 from each bidder as administrative charge.  Perhaps, to ensure that the bidders comply with the conditions spelt out for the exercise without flouting it, they were made to know  that since  the  process is fully  automated , their physical intervention at was not necessary.

In spite of  the transparency in the management of the e-auction, the Complaints and  inquiries  that were said to have been pouring in ,  from aggrieved  bidders who had tried unsuccessfully but could not win , due to invalid TIN and inability to service- the e-auction  Waller, are damming. They haccused the Customs windows used of the online sales of  ‘’poor network due to their locations’’.

 They were said to have given other  reasons  that had marred the exercise  , which  many believe  are all outside the jurisdiction  of the revenue generating agency. ‘’Some of these  Complaints  appeared   to have questioned  the integrity  of  the e-auction process’’, Attah had said.

The dwell time  for the online auction  sale, the Customs Spokesperson , had said  was 48 hours, stressing that third party claims were  not entertained. Note that for the overtime cargo, the successful bidders were said to have paid an additional 25%, surcharge  for  shipping Line and Terminal Operators, respectively.

The Value News gathered that that the successful bidders were given   five working days  to make payment  and a copy of payment assessment  and  bank receipt must be presented to the Customs Authorities, and who in turn must forward it to the  Area Comptrollers at the ports and the Deputy Comptrollers, in-charge , of the bonded Terminals to facilitate the release of the successfully bidded items.

This may have informed why  the  Customs  Authorities could boast that the Service  successfully generated N151,022,245.00 from the e-auction of 187 overtime cargo and vehicles within the period slated for the  exercise without losing  a dine.

Investigations by The Magazine shows that  some  of the successful  bidders who could not payment  within the five working  days  allowed in order to take delivery of their cargo at the ports  and  bonded terminals  were deactivated as the auction was closed.

This may have informed why the Service still have  a total reserved bid of  overtime cargo of  about N90 million as at Tuesday, August 25, 2020, an indication that the three e-auction windows might be opened a gain.

Stephen Ubanna

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