Business Hilights
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Systems hiccups force Nigerians to call for cancelation of e-auction by Customs

At the end of day four, Thursday, July 6 in the ongoing e-auctioning of seizures by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Nigerians struggling to partake in the process have called for immediate cancelation of the e-process, saying the system is not fully integrated and designed to carry the traffic of visitors.

The Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, had on Monday in Abuja inaugurated the e-auction platform aimed at giving all Nigerians equal opportunities to partake in bidding for seized vehicles and to increase Customs’ revenue.

It would be recalled that at the end of biddings on Day 3, only  43 bidders out of thousands of people that applied in the auction were named as winners, a far cry to even the expectations of the Customs.

The development further sparked off fears of systems poor design and integration configuration with all partnering financial institutions.

Within the third day, it was further observed that Jaiz Bank was the only active portal for the transaction while the other 23 banks were said to be having interswich challenges.

Business Hilights recalls that the Customs had on the first day of the e-auction process in Abuja, confirmed that there were technical challenges.

According to Customs spokesman, Mr. Joseph Attah, “For now, it is only Jaiz Bank that is on the platform. Other designated banks are having Interswitch issues and they will soon be on board as soon as they ratify the issues”.

“I understand that today one bank will soon be on board. For those trying to register, they should go to the designated bank area on the platform, click on the Jaiz Bank and print out the page from their system and go to the bank to pay.

“This means the person has activated with Jaiz Bank and the bank can key you into the bank system to enable you pay the N1,000 administrative fee, which will be transferred to your e-wallet”.

The puzzle which the Customs hierarchy has continued to evade is why only a non-interest commercial bank emerged as the only institution succeeded with the auction while the other 25 banks are still struggling with connectivity.

As at Thursday, many are still trapped in logging in or printing out their bids.

Whereas many aggrieved participants whose efforts were cut short due to systems hiccups are calling on the Federal Government to suspend the e-auction until all the systems grey areas are sorted out, others see the entire process as being programmed to deny Nigerians opportunity to bid for the cargoes.

Already, frustrated participants are calling on the anti graft agencies to wade in to the matter to limit the number of people whose bidding are not entered.

The general belief is that the website is not friendly to everybody, which contrary to the statement issued by the Service on day one.

Besides, the Customs had claimed “After repeated tests of the e-auction platform, NCS is now set to deploy the e-auction portal on July 1, 2017”.

The statement added that the portal has been fully networked to designated banks to ensure that money accruing from the auction gets to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Treasury Single Account for transparency and accountability.

Business Hilights recalls that part of the key conditions for the e-auction qualification include, applicants must have a valid TIN issued by FIRS with an active e-mail account and shall pay a non-refundable fee of N1000 as administrative charge. An item is auctioned “as is” as such request for replacement or refund shall not be entertained. The successful bidder shall make payment within five working days and failure to pay within the stipulated time frame, the items reverts to the second highest bidder.