By Isaac Anumihe
Seized vehicles with Duty Paid Value (DPV) worth over N6 billion are rotting away in various Customs warehouses and premises across the country following the suspension of auction by its management since August 2015.
The vehicles numbering over 2,000 units, most of which were seized by Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) 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.
However, while the vehicles, which include cars, buses, trucks and tankers were intercepted during attempts to smuggle them into Nigeria, others were seized for being used to convey smuggled items.
Hameed Ali, a retired army colonel and Controller General of Customs suspended auction of seized goods upon taking charge of the NCS in August 2015.
Earlier, President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the distribution of seized bags of rice to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps to address the food crisis ravaging the camps. The move by government was to prevent the rice products from expiring or getting infested with weevils and other pests.
Spokesman for NCS, Joseph Attah, 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 in the auction and the highest bidder gets it. The delay in the auction is temporary 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 the Federal Operation Units in Lagos, Owerri, Benin, Bauchi, Kaduna and Kano.