But the Nigeria Association of Auctioneers has kicked against the unilateral disposal of forfeited goods by the NCS, insisting that it is illegal.

The NAA President, Alhaji Musa Kurra, alleged that the Nigeria Customs Service had been carrying out illegal sales of seized goods without involving auctioneers.

He queried the direct auction allocation system being used to dispose of the forfeited goods, arguing that there was nothing like that in the BPP Act guiding the disposal of public assets.

‘’He (CG) has been giving (allocation) papers to selected people; we have seen many of those papers and he said he would not use auctioneers. He is not elected but appointed; the president can wake up and ask him to go if he is not doing the right thing; and as far as I’m concerned, he is not doing the right thing,’’ he submitted.

The NAA President criticised the delay in auctioning forfeited items, which he said were losing their value.

He stated, “We all know that the government needs funds badly to execute some of the major projects they have started but many forfeited properties are wasting away.’’

Customs’ auctioning portal

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

Asked why the Customs made direct auction to some selected car dealers recently, Bomodi replied, “Publish what you have, at least the people (dealers) are not faceless individuals, they will come and say, ‘yes, we bought cars from Customs.’

“If we say we have a portal for the auctioning of vehicles and somebody says about 6,000 cars were auctioned to dealers, it is better they publish it and we are made to know; embarrass us with the facts so that we know how to take action.

“There is a portal for auctioning of vehicles and we’ve been doing it. It is not just starting today. It is official, just go to our website and you will see the auctions there, including all the cars that they auctioned there. It is not a secret.”

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

“Sorry I could not pick up the calls. You can please explain and write formally to the office,” she stated.

The NCS has been auctioning vehicles publicly through its website, for instance in July this year, it reportedly confirmed the plan to auction 7,000 uncleared vehicles.

It was reported that thousands of imported vehicles, which were not cleared, in Lagos State might be auctioned by the agency if the owners failed to comply with the recently introduced Vehicle Identification Number valuation policy.

The NCS Area Comptroller of Ports Terminal Multiservices Limited, Festus Okun, had reportedly put the number of vehicles manufactured before 2013 that could be auctioned at 7,000, though some importers argued that the figure was higher.

Also, the NCS Public Relations Officer, Tin-Can Island Port,  Uche Ejesieme, had reportedly stated that the vehicles would be moved from the ports and bonded terminals to the government warehouse in Ikorodu for auctioning.

This, according to him, would happen if the importers of the vehicles failed to pay the right duties as required by the VIN after 90 days.

He had explained that the movement of the vehicles would begin once the terminal operators generated Uncleared Cargo Lists to enable the NCS to declare the overtime cargoes

Ejesieme also stated that the service needed space inside the ports to facilitate legitimate business.

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

He stated that some of the importers might be having issues with their banks and others might be having domestic challenges, “but our prayer is that they should get the money to come and clear their vehicles.”

The Customs official stated that the agency needed the space inside the port to transact legitimate business, adding that the terminal operators had yet to give the NCS the uncleared cargo lists at the time.

The list, according to Ejesieme, would tell the exact number of vehicles inside the port as he emphasised that the vehicles were many.