The Nigeria Customs Service on Monday gave reasons why only Jaiz Bank participated in the maiden e-auction exercise launched on the July 3.
The e-auction platform launched by the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, was to enable the agency auction some seized items to members of the public.
The agency said its motivation was the core benefits of generating more revenue for the Federal Government, while providing equal opportunities to all Nigerians to acquire the items.
But, the exercise was trailed by controversies, as Nigerians, particularly those who were frustrated by their inability to access the auction platforms in commercial banks other than Jaiz bank, accused the NCS of manipulating the bidding process in favour of some vested interests.
However, as the second phase of the bidding kicked off Monday, the NCS said it became necessary to clarify issues raised from public complaints, questions and commentaries on the first phase.
“The Service wishes to make some clarifications, especially as the inability of other commercial banks to hook up to the platform is creating inconveniences that could lead to wrong perception that impinges on the integrity of the process,” the NCS spokesperson, Joseph Attah, said in a statement.
Mr. 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.
Mr. Attah said 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.
Following the discovery, he said the NCS immediately wrote to all the designated banks requesting them to “integrate with the e-auction application for the recharging of e-wallet.”
On Wednesday, Mr. Attah said another letter was sent to the CBN stressing the need for it to confirm the readiness of all the commercial banks under its supervision to perform their roles to ensure the success of the project.
Since then, he said the 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.
Consequently, the NCS spokesperson said despite the initial hitches, about 43 winners emerged during the first 48 hours bidding period, between 12 noon to Wednesday 12 noon produced.
The winners had bided for 130 vehicles uploaded by the agency for auction.
Although 282 people registered, the NCS said 268 were enabled, with 245 able to generate e-wallet assessment. Out of 177 that recharged their e-wallets, 68 bided, leading to the emergence of 43 winners.
The second round of bidding, which began on Monday July 10, 2017 (today) is scheduled to end by 12 noon on Wednesday, with more banks expected to participate.
“We wish to assure the general public of the Service determination to ensure that the transparent and accountable e-auction process succeeds,” Mr. Attah assured.