The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service NCS, Col. Hameed Ali has said that the decision of the service to adopt the electronic option for the public auction of seized and over time cargo was informed by the need to enhance transparency by eliminating human contact in the entire exercise.

The service had Monday commenced the electronic auction of goods in various parts of the country as against the former manual system, which may be fraught with irregularities since it involved person-person contact.

Under the new arrangement, only members of public with valid and current Tax Identification Number TIN, issued by the Federal Inland Revenue Service FIRS, are eligible to participate in the auction exercise.

Eligible participants are also to pay non-refundable deposit of N1, 000 before logging in to make their bid for the various seized and over time goods, which are on display on the portal.

It was also gathered that members of the auction committee are drawn from the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, Standards Organisation of Nigeria SON, National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control NAFDAC.

The CG also disclosed that proceeds from the sales will be remitted to the CBN through the Treasury Single Account TSA, using designated commercial banks in line with the desire to ensure transparency in the entire process.

Available records show that the goods include those seized or abandoned by their owners at the various seaport terminals and off dock facilities and subsequently declared as overtime by the service in line with the relevant provisions of the Customs and Excise Management Act CEMA, and other relevant laws of the federation.

The CG, who officially unveiled the electronic-auction platform in Abuja, insists that the system will very transparent.

He said: “The current exercise is a departure from the past believed to be fraught with irregularities. The launching of the e-auction platform marks a complete departure from the manual process of the past that was opened to abuses”

“In the past, stakeholders had accused the service of nepotism, short-changing the government of revenue through arbitrary auction fees to be paid by allotees and sundry corruption allegations against the service”

“Consequently, since my assumption of duty as the CGC, suspension order was placed on the manual auction to give way to development of an electronic platform that will be secured, transparent, capable of increasing revenue, as well as, providing equal opportunities for all Nigerians who are interested in the process”

He noted that it has been a long walk to an era of a system that will ensure transparency and accountability in such a way that leaves nobody in doubt that NCS has the capacity to discharge its responsibilities with utmost sincerity.