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Lift ban on Customs auctions to limit value loss of seized vehicles–Aniebonam

Leading maritime stakeholders, analyst and founder of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders’ (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam has called on the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali to lift ban on official auctioning of impounded vehicles so that the revenue so generated can add value to the economy. He also noted that such review will further free up spaces in several warehouses of the agency across the country.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, he said considering the state of the economy, there is no need allowing the cars to rot away when government is looking for fund to execute development programmes that can help the nation exit from recession as soon as possible after all.

Recent findings revealed that seized vehicles with Duty Paid Value (DPV) worth over N6 billion are rotting away in various Customs warehouses and premises across the country following the suspension of auction by its management since August 2015.

The vehicles numbering over 2,000 units, most of which were seized by Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) as part of its anti-smuggling drive, have started depreciating in value. Some of the vehicles were impounded along some inter-state highways when their owners could not produce proofs of Customs duty payment.

Investigations also showed that whereas some vehicles, which include cars, buses, trucks and tankers, were intercepted during attempts to smuggle them into Nigeria, others were seized for being used to convey smuggled items.

Business Hilights recalls that Hameed Ali, a retired army colonel and Controller General of Customs had suspended auction of seized goods upon taking charge of the NCS in August 2015.

However, at the heat of famine in many Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) camps, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the distribution of seized bags of rice to camps to address the food crisis ravaging the camps. The move by government was to prevent the rice products from expiring or getting infested with weevils and other pests.

But responding on why the ban had lasted, Public Relations Officer of the Service, Joseph Attah, said the auctions were put on hold by Ali to fine-tune it for transparency.

According to him, “The CG suspended it to give room for transparency so that the new system will be without bias or favouritism. The new system is planned in such a way that people will be able to apply in the auction and the highest bidder gets it. The delay in the auction is temporary and will be addressed soon,’’ he said.

The seized vehicles, many of which have gone through a process of court condemnation and awaiting auction, are at the border stations and various arms of the Federal Operation Units in Lagos, Owerri, Benin, Bauchi, Kaduna and Kano.

Besides, fraudsters seem to have cashed in as they masquerade online, falsely braining unsuspecting car buyers of sales of seized cars and many Nigerians had been duped in the process.

The NCS, however, had been warning Nigerians from time to time that the ban is still active so that the public will not fall prey to fraudsters in the process.

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