As the controversy over the inability of many bidders to participate in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) e-auction exercise intensifies, the Service yesterday explained why only Jaiz Bank portal was used for the process.
In a statement, NCS spokesman, Mr Joseph Attah, said all 23 customs duty collecting banks were not only carried along, but were properly trained to participate in the bidding process.
“When the platform was developed, it was subjected to user-acceptability test with all the banks, including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Throughout this period, no bank indicated any problem with the platform,” he said.
According to Attah, following the official launch of the bidding platform https.app.trade.gov.ng/eauction, it was discovered that only Jaiz Bank was ready and active on the platform.
To this end, NCS immediately wrote to all the designated banks requesting them to integrate with the e-auction application for the recharging of e-wallet.
So, on Wednesday, the NCS sent another letter to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to confirm the readiness of all the commercial banks under its supervision to perform their roles to ensure the success of the project.
NCS was told that other banks were making efforts to sort out technical problem on their platforms to enable them hook up to the bidding system.
Meanwhile, the second round of the exercise took place yesterday.
Attah said that the first round featured 282 registered bidders. While a total of 268 bidders were enabled, 245 of them generated e-wallet assessment.
‘’The maiden round which lasted for 48 hours, had vehicles of different makes, categories and models. It featured 282 registered bidders . A total of 268 bidders were enabled while 245 of them generated e-wallets assessment. Sixty-eight people were able to recharge their e-wallets with N1000 before bidding” he said.
Attah added that those who were unable to utilise their recharged e-wallets before 48 hours of the first batch elapsed can use it to bid when the second batch comes up tomorrow for another 48 hours bidding period.
He said the identified challenges encountered in the first batch would be addressed by the ICT unit of the customs. He expressed hope that more commercial banks will come on board to ease access for payments unlike the first round when it was only Jaiz Bank that had a functional portal.
‘’We are coming up with the second batch which will be uploaded on Monday and will stay up for another 48 hours before that batch of bidding will close again. The Service appears to be leaving up to its promise of providing equal opportunities for all interested persons while generating revenue for the government e – auction
‘’Our Controller General, Colonel Hameed Ali is committed to ensuring the highest degrees of transparency and fairness in the auction process. We will continue to guard against any form of abuse.
‘’ Nigerians should have no reason to fear or worry over the activities of fraudsters as this system will keep them shut out permanently’’ Attah said.
Recall that the ongoing process is in line with Section 167 (2) CAP C45 and Section 2 (1) and (2) CAP C46 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), which gives the Service the powers to dispose
seized and overtime cargoes after they must have undergone judicial process (court condemnation).
Also, recall that a total of 43 winners emerged from the first round of bidders. The portal https:app.trade.gov.ng/eauction went live on July 1,2017 amidst doubts that it was real as a result of fear of scammers
Attah , however, , described the first attempt as a success and assured that the system will continue to improve for the benefit of its users and the government.
He said the Information Communication Technology (ICT) Department of the service has intensified efforts to achieve ease of using the application portal.
The NCS imagemaker used the occasion to inform that no perishable items seized by the customs have been in various Government Warehouses across the country for over 18 months when auctions were suspended.