The Nigeria Customs Service resumed the electronic auction of vehicles impounded from smugglers on its web portal but several Nigerians have lamented their inability to participate in the process.
The auction, a yearly ritual since 2017, was introduced to decongest the Customs’ warehouses.
On Monday, Joseph Attah, the customs spokesperson, announced the re-opening of the process in a statement.
“Following the re-engineering of the Nigeria Customs Service e-auction process, the electronic portal is now opened (live) for interested persons with valid Tax Identification Number (TIN) to log in and bid for items of their choice,” Mr Attah, a deputy comptroller of customs, said.
For the current window, the bidding period opens 12 noon Monday and closes 12 noon Wednesday every week, the statement added.
“Please note that the process is fully automated and requires no physical intervention of any kind to win.”
But several Nigerians who tried to participate in the process complained that the web portal would not accept their Tax Identification Numbers (TIN), among other things.
The possession of a TIN, issued by the Federal Inland Service (FIRS), is one of the requirements to participate in the process.
Applicants are also expected to pay a non-refundable “administrative” fee of N1,000.
But no sooner had the announcement been made than Nigerians besieged the Customs’ social media handles with complaints.
NIGERIA CUSTOMS SERVICE RESUMES E-AUCTION.
Following the re-engineering of the Nigeria Customs Service e-auction process, the electronic portal is now opened (live) for interested persons with valid Tax Identification Number (TIN) to log in and bid for items of their choice.
— NIGERIA CUSTOMS (@CustomsNG) August 10, 2020
Try sorting out the Tin and email field, they are not working… I tried coy, BN, and personal tin. Non seems to fly.
— Obichukwu O. E (@pman4us) August 11, 2020
Please check the portal very well. I went to CAC to reconfirm my TIN number which is correct but this portal keep saying "TIN number not found" please check! Thank you
— Olanipekun Richard (@olarichy4u) August 10, 2020
Another prospective applicant, Babatunde Yahaya, said while he was able to access the portal with his TIN, he had a problem funding his e-wallet
“The challenge I have is recharging my wallet, normally they ask you to recharge it,” Mr Babatunde, an engineer and the managing director of Hypolux Nigeria Limited, told PREMIUM TIMES.
“I always go to UBA but they always complain of not getting easy access to the platform for them to credit my wallet. I registered when they first started the e-auction, I think two years ago, when they first launched the app, that’s when I did it. But since then I’ve been having issues recharging my wallet, that I’ve not been able to participate in any of their auctions.”
On Tuesday morning, several callers reached out to PREMIUM TIMES to complain about their difficulty in accessing the customs’ portal.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Mr Attah, the customs spokesperson said the agency is not responsible for the problem.
“Why should they call you? Have you become the Federal Inland Revenue Service? I’m the PRO, when a journalist approach me like that it’s not the right key to open me.Ifsomebody is sick, you are calling a journalist, for what? If your TIN is not valid, you go to where you should solve your problem of TIN,” said Mr Attah.
“If your TIN is not working or whatever, is it an issue to come to Customs? You go to the person who issue you TIN. There are issues that we take the wrong route. I don’t speak for the FIRS. If your TIN that is given to you there is not working or whatever, you will go back to that place and validate your TIN.
“They should go to PRO of FIRS because they are connected to our portal too.”
Abdullahi Ismaila, the spokesperson of FIRS, after initially referring this reporter back to the customs, said “TIN is online, once it is issued, there are several ways of checking your TIN online, I don’t know if it has anything to do with us, honestly.
“We issue TIN and once it has been issued, the end-user uses it the way he likes, so I don’t know what is the problem with their own, I cannot speak to that.”
Mr Ismaila later told PREMIUM TIMES that users should try *829#” on Etisalat lines.