Customs sell seized vehicles as scrap, auctioneers kick

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Adelani Adepegba and Okechukwu Nnodim, write about irregularities in customs vehicle auction practices

The Nigerian Customs Service reportedly sold approximately 6,000 seized vehicles and other items to selected businesses and individuals, The punch has learned.

The auction of the vehicles, it was learned, took place without an open tender, contrary to the 2007 Office of Public Tenders Act.

The vehicles would have been marked as scrap and sold at promotional prices through direct auction allocation.

With regard to the disposal of public property, Article 55 (3) (5) of the BPP Act states: “Open bidding shall be the primary source for receiving bids for the purchase of any property public for sale.

“For the purposes of this Act, public property is defined as resources in the form of tangible and intangible assets (ranging from useful to unusable).

Reliable sources told our correspondent that the NCS was selling seized goods and contraband without following stipulated procedures.

Instead of selling the confiscated assets through public auctions as required by law, it was learned that the service had carried out what it called the direct auctioning of vehicles, machinery, equipment , electronics, clothing, food and other contraband goods to selected dealers. .

A source said: ‘So far around 6,000 vehicles have been sold to their cronies through the so-called direct auction allocation. The vehicles, which could have brought huge revenue to the government, were sold as scrap at promotional prices.

“We all know this is a scheme to enrich their favorite entrepreneurs at the expense of the government. The government is being denied the revenue it would have earned from open auctions. If this government is serious, the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali should already be answering tough questions from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or the National Assembly.”

The punch could not confirm claims that 6,000 vehicles were sold, but a letter from the NCS to a company, AMEX West Africa Limited and dated March 25, 2022, stated that 338 vehicles were sold for N3,380,000 by through direct auction allocation by the Nigerian Customs Service. ‘ Committee on direct disposal of condemned scrap vehicles and other items in Abuja.

The letter, reference number: NCS/ADM/MGT/012/S.2/C, signed by the Chairman of the Direct Scrap Disposal Committee, Comptroller AD Sanusi, was titled: “Direct Auction Allocation of scrap vehicles and other items.’

It read: ”I am instructed to inform you that the Comptroller General of Customs, acting in accordance with the provisions of the Customs Administration and Fiscal (Disposal of Goods) Act, CAP C46, ​​Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, hereby awards the underlisted 338 lots of various scrap vehicles domiciled at Katsina State Area Command to your company as auctions for disposal, smelting and raw material manufacturing for a production worth only 3,380,000 naira.

“All vehicles transferred must be evacuated from the premises within 10 working days after payment, under penalty of confiscation. In addition, you should note the following: Requests for replacement of assigned vehicles will not be accepted. All letters of attribution transferred or sold by the transferee to a third party are at the risk and peril of the buyer.”

Another committee letter dated September 5, 2022 also awarded 53 vehicles to Nak Metal Steel Limited at a cost of N530,000.

In addition, Gamchaka & Sons Nigeria Limited was awarded two Toyota Camry and Mazda 626 cars at N120,000.

The article cited by the NCS to justify the sale read in part: “For the purposes of this Act, the Director (CG) generally has the power to sell or otherwise dispose of property forfeited under the 1 of this article, and must, in particular, relate to the functions;

“to determine the best mode of sale or disposal of the goods; and where the goods are to be sold;

“to ensure that reasonable prices as determined by the Director are obtained in such sale or disposal, and to appoint by competitive bidding (if necessary) any person or agent to purchase or effect the sale or the disposal of the goods; and

”to ensure that the goods will not be sold or otherwise transferred to any importer to whom the goods are or have been consigned or to any person, firm or agent connected therewith.”

Further investigations indicate that 15 other companies also benefited from the alleged NCS bazaar. A total of 45 cars were allocated to them.

One company, Jelverson Oil & Gas Nigeria Limited, was awarded a Fiat Ducato for N80,000, a Honda Accord (N30,000) and a Volkswagen (N30,000), all located in Kano.

The NCS also sold a Mitsubishi Canter truck worth N100,000; Toyota bus (N60,000) and Volkswagen Golf car (N20,000) at A1 Business Ltd., Abuja Shopping Complex, Garki Area 3.

Garbadau Global Services also benefited from the exercise as it was allocated three Hijet vans parked in Kano at a cost of N150,000.

Three Peugeot J5 bus vehicles worth N80,000; The V/W Golf Car (N30,000) and Honda Accord (N30,000) were awarded to Team Option Services Ltd., while Kusfa Nigeria Ltd. got two V/W golf cars (#60,000) and a J5 bus (N70,000).

They were requested to pay to customs account numbers 3000008059 and 3000008327 domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria.

But the Nigerian Association of Auctioneers has opposed the unilateral disposal of confiscated assets by the NCS, insisting it is illegal.

NAA Chairman Alhaji Musa Kurra alleged that the Nigeria Customs Service carried out illegal sales of seized goods without involving the auctioneers.

He questioned the direct auction allocation system used to dispose of confiscated property, arguing that there was no such thing in the BPP law guiding the disposal of public property.

”He (CG) gave (award) papers to selected people; we saw a lot of these logs and he said he wouldn’t use auctioneers. He is not elected but appointed; the president can wake up and ask him to leave if he doesn’t do the right thing; and as far as I’m concerned, it’s not doing the right thing,” he said.

The NAA president criticized the delay in auctioning the confiscated items, which he said were losing value.

He said: “We all know that the government is in dire need of funds to carry out some of the big projects it has started, but many confiscated properties are languishing.

Customs auction portal

Reacting however, NCS spokesman Timi Bomodi told our correspondent that the agency had always auctioned off vehicles through a portal on its website, insisting the agency was following due process in all its activities.

Asked why Customs recently held direct auctions with some selected car dealers, Bomodi replied, “Publish what you have, at least people (dealers) are not faceless individuals, they will come and say, “Yes, we bought cars at customs. ‘

“If we say we have a portal for vehicle auctions and someone says that around 6,000 cars have been auctioned off to dealers, they better publish it and let us know. embarrassing ourselves with the facts so that we know how to act.

“There is a portal for vehicle auctions and we are doing it. It doesn’t just start today. It’s official, just go to our website and you will see the auctions there, including all the cars that have been auctioned there. It’s not a secret. »

Meanwhile, when the Office of Public Procurement was contacted for a reaction to the matter, its spokesperson, Janet McDickson, requested that a formal letter be written to the BPP, explaining the issue.

“Sorry, I couldn’t answer the calls. Can you please explain and formally write to the office,” she said.

The NCS has auctioned vehicles publicly via its website, for example in July this year it reportedly confirmed plans to auction 7,000 uncleared vehicles.

It has been reported that thousands of vehicles imported, which have not been cleared, into Lagos State could be auctioned off by the agency, if the owners do not comply with the number assessment policy. recently introduced vehicle identification.

Ports Terminal Multiservices Limited NCS area controller Festus Okun is believed to have estimated that 7,000 vehicles manufactured before 2013 could be auctioned, although some importers have argued the figure is higher.

In addition, NCS Public Relations Officer, Tin-Can Island Port, Uche Ejesieme reportedly said that the vehicles would be moved from ports and bonded terminals to the government warehouse in Ikorodu for auction.

This, he said, would happen if the importers of the vehicles failed to pay the customs duties required by the VIN after 90 days.

He had explained that the movement of vehicles would begin once the terminal operators generated lists of uncleared cargoes to enable the NCS to report overtime cargoes.

Ejesieme also said the service needs space inside ports to facilitate legitimate business.

He had told a newspaper that so many factors were responsible for the large number of vehicles inside the ports because it was not just about the VIN.

He said some of the importers might have problems with their banks and others might have domestic issues, “but our prayer is that they get the money to come and clear their vehicles.”

The customs official said the agency needed the space inside the port to carry out legitimate transactions, adding that terminal operators had yet to give the NCS the lists of uncleared cargoes at the port. ‘era.

The list, according to Ejesieme, would indicate the exact number of vehicles inside the port as he pointed out that the vehicles were numerous.

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