President Buhari Has Been Advised To Sell Over 6,000 Seized Customs Vehicles [PHOTO]
President Muhammadu Buhari has been advised to reconstitute the dissolved auction committee to sell over 7, 000 seized vehicles and containers kept in government warehouses in Lagos, Seme, Abeokuta and other formations of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) across the country.
The vehicles and the containers, it was gathered, were seized by the officials of the NCS and kept in government warehouses.
A senior Customs officer, who craved anonymity, said some of the vehicles had been in the warehouses for over three years and rusting.
Huge money, the official said, would have been realised if the public was allowed to buy them.
Importers are seeking the help of President Buhari, the Minister of Finance Mrs Kemi Adeosun and the Customs Comptroller-General (CCG) Col. Hameed Ali to get the goods released or auctioned.
The importers believe that there is no better time than now to auction the goods.
This, to them, was the surest way to fight corruption, and also do justice. They argue that the auction proceeds could be used for development.
Among the seized items are trailers, Toyota Camry, Avensis, Corolla, Highlander Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV), Audi, Lexus SUVs, Altima, Jetta, Mazda, Primera, Peugeot, Hummer SUV, and buses.
Others are containers with various types of goods, including teak wood and other prohibited items.
Other items in the containers, the source said, are lace fabric, used clothes, second-hand shoes, bags, truck heads, iron rods, angle bar, wood, pipes, gas trucks, rice, furniture, light and other household items.
It was discovered that some of the vehicles were seized from smugglers, others were impounded from their owners on the road because the importers alleged failure to pay Customs duty.
Sources said the goods might not be auctioned soon because the Customs’commands are not making such request.
Some of the goods, the source said, were cleared from the ports but were seized by men of the Federal Operation Unit (FOU), Zone ‘A’ for false declaration, undeclaration and evasion of duty.
Most of the exotic cars, the source said, were seized because the owners bought them from smugglers or importers who evaded duty.
The President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, blamed some corrupt Customs officials, importers and some clearing agents for the woes.
For years, Shittu said, Customs has operated without a benchmark for used vehicles. The agency, according to him, fixes duty at will, depending on who is importing..
“It takes two to tangle. Customs officers are paid and remunerated to ensure that nobody short-change the system, but there are people who also offer them opportunities to short change the government and you find them among Customs officers, importers and some clearing agents.
“There are immediate steps the CG needs to take now to nip corruption in the bud. One of the first things he needs to do is to ensure that there is a bench mark on used vehicles. The bench mark being used by Customs gives room for corruption because it is not publicised. For instance, if you want to buy a vehicle from abroad and you already know how much you are paying, it is better you pay everything to government without giving anybody bribe to get the vehicle out of the ports,” Shittu said.