RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos
Seized vehicles with Duty Paid Value worth over N6b are rotting in various customs warehouses and premises across the country following the suspension of auction by the service management since August 2015.
The vehicles numbering over two thousand units most of which were seized by Nigeria Customs Service 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.
Some of the vehicles which includes cars, buses, trucks and tankers were intercepted during attempts to smuggle them into Nigeria. Others were seized for being the mode of conveyance for smuggled items.
Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Controller General of Customs suspended auction of seized goods upon taking charge of Nigeria Customs in August 2015.
President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the distribution of seized rice to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camps to address the food crises facing them.
The move by government is to prevent the rice from expiring or getting infested with weevils and other pests.
Joseph Attah, spokesman for Nigeria Customs said in a telephone interview that the auctions were suspended by Ali to fine tune it for transparency.
”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 for auction online and the highest bidder gets it”
”The delay in auction is temporal 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 Federal Operation Units in Lagos, Owerri, Benin,Bauchi, Kaduna and Kano.