Nigeria Customs and the Good Omen of its E-Auction Platform, by Abdulsalam Mahmud

Nigeria Customs and the Good Omen of its E-Auction Platform, by Abdulsalam Mahmud

The Acting Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Mr Bashir Adewale Adeniyi
The Acting Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Mr Bashir Adewale Adeniyi


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Nigeria Customs and the Good Omen of its E-Auction Platform, by Abdulsalam Mahmud

In recent years, one of the challenge bedeviling Nigerian ports is the issue of overtime cargoes. From Apapa to Tin-Can, and Onne Ports, sights of abandoned and overtime container boxes and vehicles, are conspicuous.

In terms of what their presence at our sea ports causes, overtime cargoes threaten port efficiency through congestion. They also necessitate high cargo dwell time, and delay turnaround time of ships as vessels spend between 18 to 25 days waiting time, before discharging at the ports.

LEADERSHIP investigations last year revealed that there are over 10,000 overtime cargoes worth billions of naira abandoned by importers with some of these cargoes been in the ports for between seven to 10 years having taken 30 per cent of port space, which invariably congests the various terminals at the ports due to lack of space.

Terminal operators and users of port services, who suffer incalculable economic losses as a result of ports congestion, have not relented in calling on Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, in particular, to wade in and arrest the situation.

Through on-the-spot auctions of overtime goods by the Customs, experts believe Nigerian sea ports would be decongested. Expectedly, the NCS, in hearkening to the demands of critical stakeholders, recently revamped its e-auction Platform.

The move was geared towards fast-tracking the effective and transparent disposal of goods impounded, together with overtime cargoes. “This strategic move aligns with the guidelines outlined in the newly enacted Nigeria Customs Service Act, 2023, showcasing the agency’s dedication to efficiency and fairness.

“The new platform, accessible at https://auction.nigeriatradehub.gov.ng, is an upgraded version of the previous portal designed to provide Nigerians with an equal opportunity to participate.

“Since its relaunch, the platform has recorded impressive results, including: • 1137 number of bids • 1099 registered applicants • 652 successfully paid administration fee • 100 vehicles uploaded on the window • 86 vehicles bided and won

“The NCS emphasizes that successful bidders should promptly download their winning certificates through the provided link in the confirmation email. Subsequently, winners are required to present the certificate where the goods are domiciled, and the clearance process is expected to be done within seven days,” said Customs spokesperson, Abdullahi Maiwada, in a statement.

According to the statement, the auctions are periodic and open every Tuesday from 12 noon to 6 pm, providing the public with regular opportunities to select and bid for desired items.

The statement further reads that, “For comprehensive details and guidelines on the e-auction process, interested participants are encouraged to visit the NCS website at www.customs.gov.ng. Any concerns or complaints can be directed to the NCS Helpdesk at 07037891156, operational from Mondays to Fridays from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

“While we acknowledge occasional glitches reported by participants, potentially attributed to high traffic, our dedicated technical team is actively addressing the situation. We assure the public that initial issues will be swiftly resolved to ensure a seamless experience in all subsequent exercises.

“The NCS remains committed to transparency, accessibility, and public engagement through its revamped e-auction platform, fostering a fair and efficient process for the disposal of seized and overtime goods”.

As a law enforcement agency which has seriously been accused of perpetrating fraud in the course of discharging its mandate, having a revamped e-auction platform will be a game changer for the Customs. If the process of disposing seized good or overtime cargoes are transparent for the public, it will further guarantee just and fair service delivery to citizens, while boosting national revenue.

One thing is also pertinent for mentioning. The Customs’ men to handle the process should eschew acts that will again smear the platform’s integrity. In other words, those that will be handling the exercise should not manipulate the electronic system to the benefit of their fronts.

Doing so will be a terrible drawback for the leadership of CGC Adewale Adeniyi, who is bent on changing the narrative of the Nigeria Customs for good, and from what Nigerians hitherto ascribed to the NCS, albeit negatively.

Mahmud is the Deputy Editor of PRNigeria, and can be reached via: [email protected].

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