The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), launched its e-auction portal yesterday, opening a new vista in the disposal of seized goods and overtime cargo in its custody.
The online portal went live at exactly 12 noon, ending the long wait of anxious Nigerians.
Comptroller General of the NCS, Hameed Ali, said the online platform automatically replaced the former manual arrangement banned due to its inherent challenges.
He said the new process would ensure maximum revenue was generated for the government, aside institutionalizing transparency.
“The manual process of the past was open to abuses. Stakeholders had accused the establishment of nepotism, shortchanging the government of revenue through arbitrary auction fees to be paid by the allottees and sundry corruption against us.
“Suspended order was placed on the old method to give way for the development of an electronic platform that will be secured, transparent, capable of increasing revenue,a as well as providing equal opportunities to Nigerians who are interested in the process.
“The journey to the e-auction we are witnessing was long and people expressed doubt including some staff but we trudged on. We persevered and God saw us through,” he explained.
On claims by the National Association of Auctioneers (NAA) that the Customs was illegally engaged in auctioning seized items as it was not statutorily empowered to do so, Ali described it as total falsehood, stressing that what the establishment was doing was in line with the dictates of the constitution.
“What we are doing is in line with Section 167 (2) CAP C45 and Section 2 (1) and (2) CAP C46 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), which gives the Service the powers to dispose seized and overtime cargo after they must undergone judicial process.
“We are therefore discharging our duties in an open, transparent and accountable manner in line with government’s stance on transparency,” he stated.
On the integrity of the online platform and its susceptibility to cyber attacks, the Customs boss said it was a fortified system linked with government agencies like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), among others.
He added: “The online portal will be opened 24 hours of everyday and the maximum time for a particular bid closure is 48 hours. If you are the highest bidder and you have been notified, you have five days to make payment, hence it goes to the second highest bidder.”
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