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Customs Ali 33
CG of Nigerian Customs, Hameed Ali, addressing officers and men of the Service recently.

Banks’ refute Customs claims on e-auction sabotage as 17 more join process

…Scheme crawls to N25m sales in 2 weeks from 40 cars, 2,489 bids

Contrary to the claims by the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd), that the non-participation of all commercial banks except Jaiz Bank was a sabotage of the economy, the managing director of banks have reacted, saying it was not so.

In his swift response during a meeting of bank chiefs with the hierarchy of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) in CG’s office, the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, said that it was not true that banks were sabotaging the process, rather the delay to hook up to the platform was as a result of technical hitches.

He said “I doubt if anybody would want to sabotage the process. Information Technology can be a great challenge even after it has been test-run. We will speak to our operations people”.

Business Hilights recalls that since July 3 when the electronic auction portal was launched by NCS, only Jaiz Bank Plc has hooked up and insinuations making the rounds suggest that it was deliberate by the agency to favour northern Muslims who are the major customers of the Islamic bank.

Details gathered from the portal showed that the scheme is becoming a failure as only the sum of N25m has so far been generated as duty from 40 items auctioned by the NCS, while 2,489 Nigerians have so far bid by logging onto the electronic auction portal.

Giving more details on the reason behind the meeting, Ali said “This meeting won’t have been necessary if things have gone well. We discussed with you at the preliminary stage and everybody was carried along. But the banks decided to pull out at the last minute. About 22 to 23 duty collecting banks failed at the last minute. We need to get across to the head of the banks for the way forward”.

“This is clearly an act of economic sabotage, because the money we are going to collect neither belongs to the Customs nor coming to me, but to the Treasury Single Account for onward distribution by the Federation Account Allocation Committee. You are doing this? What other name do I call it?”

“We are taken aback by your action, but I’m happy this morning that about 17 banks have hooked to it to collect duty,” Ali added.

Continuing, Ali argued that “This has nothing doing with Muslim or the North. The Head of Department of this project is a Christian and a southerner.

“For anybody to insinuate that we did this deliberately is annoying. The names of people who emerged winners of bids are available for all to verify. It’s unfortunate that in Nigeria, everything is given either ethic or religion colouration,” he noted.

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