By Steve Agbota                                    [email protected] 08033302331

Thousands of expensive seized vehicles estimated at over N60 billion are presently rotting  away at various warehouses of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) across the country.

The vehicles, which were seized from smugglers, are wasting as the electronic auction (e-auction) platform of Customs has become moribund and useable to the general public.

Before the advent of e-auction, Customs was synonymous with manual auction and everything about the service was manual processing including the clearance of cargo at various clearing points at seaports and land borders.

But given that manual processes lack transparency and has tendencies for corruption and favouritism, according expert, the customs high command proceeded to e-auction.

So in July 2017, the Comptroller-General of the NCS, Hameed Ali, introduced the electronic auction platform ( popularly known as ‘e-auction’ as part of efforts to sanitise the system.

According to Ali, the introduction of the e-auction process was predicated on the need to eliminate abuses associated with manual auction process of the past.

In 2018, the e-auction was halted by NCS due to banks’ e-wallet challenges and other technical issues.

In 2021, the then spokesman for the NCS Joseph Attah announced the resumption of electronic auction of seized vehicles that has gone through court condemnation.

Attah who announced the resumption in a circulated on social media added that bidding period will be 48 hours starting by noon on Mondays and terminates same time on Wednesdays.

When Daily Sun visited the e-auction website:, it was discovered that only vehicles uploaded in 2017 (05/07/2017) for auctioning were seen on the e-auction website. 

As at the time of this report, the warehouses at various Customs’ Commands both at the seaports and land borders are full to the brim with seized vehicles worth over N60 billion rotting away. The rotting vehicles can be found at various commands in Ogun, Oyo, Lagos, Owerri, Kaduna, Borno, Katsina, Bauchi, and Kano among others.

A recent visit by Daily Sun to some of these warehouses shows that thousands of exotic cars now rotting away include; Mercedes Benz G wagon and various Mercedes Benz 4matic models, Hummer, Mercedes Benz, Range Rover Evolution, Ford Edge, Toyota Land Cruiser, Highlander, Toyota Hilux, various models of Lexus, Porsche cars and a host of other sport utility vehicles (SUVs) from Ford and Toyota brands. There were also a variety of trucks, salon cars and buses.

Many of the vehicles have deteriorated and sources in the service said the once exotic vehicles are being sold as scrap to foragers because of years of abandonment.

In 2020 while fielding questions from newsmen recently on why most of the vehicles seized were abandoned to rot away, the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, explained that seized vehicles cannot be automatically forfeited to government, but have to go through court processes before they can be disposed.

According to him, the court processes take longer time than necessary, which explains why the seized vehicles are left for long at the warehouse.

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Speaking with Daily Sun, a maritime expert, Mr. Tony Dike said there is thousands of vehicles were rotting away at the ports alone, taking over the space that could have been used for other goods.

He lamented nobody understands why vehicles would be allowed to rot away when millions of Nigerians are seeking to buy them.

“It is unpatriotic and a waste of resources. I wonder what is happening to this government, some officials seem not to know what they are doing. We all know that the country is in dire need of funds to implement the 2023 budget.

“Why not put these vehicles forward before court for condemnation and auction them to earn money, rather than letting them rot away. If the e-auction is not working, they need to do something about it, or go back to the manual system,” he said.

Meanwhile, the coordinator, 100 percent compliance, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Ibrahim Tanko, said nobody is happy with the way things are being run in the Customs.

He said the processing of the auctioning of a thing is wrong and one will hardly see it in order country during their auctioning, adding that what Customs is doing here is who know who and man who know man.

“You aware that Dangote has taking Customs to court on the issue of auctioning. They auctioned his truck as scrap that is the major issue. For me it is not a good one because you can’t auction somebody’s new property, a branded new truck and call it a scrap and sell it. Instead, sell it to the owner if you are calling it a scrap.

“You cannot say just because of some issues with somebody and a well-established company like Dangote maybe his truck carrying another prohibited items without known of the company and you arrested the truck. And you now auction the truck. The truck that is not even work for one month, you now auction it in the name of scrap. If you are the owner, you will not be happy,” he added.

“What will happen is that when the new government comes in, we will see how we can address the whole matter. But with this present Customs, nobody is happy with the way the system is being run because the Customs CG is behaving as if we are in military regime.

“Customs is not military. The CG is applying the experience of military, which is not in good way to run the system. When people complain, he would behave as if he didn’t hear. That thing in his mind is what he will do. We would wait for the new government to come in to see if this kind of thing will continue or not that is when of us in the maritime industry would now take up the matter,” he lamented.

However, President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero said what the Customs supposed to have done is to make sure those vehicles that are seized, if the duty has not paid on them, is to raise particular value to be paid so that the money can go into government’s coffers.

“What is Customs is doing is that they keep the vehicles in their warehouses to rot away, which is old Customs procedure. If the consignment is seized on the basis of not paying duty, what they supposed to have done is to raise duty to be paid instead of the consignment rotten away and government is not getting anything from it,” he added.

He said what Customs is doing is not in line with import guidelines, the provision of laws and many other things, adding that if the Customs believe in seizures, trade has gone beyond seizure mechanism.

“Article 11 and 9 of World Customs Organisation (WCO) tells you when you have minor thing that has to do with documentation, you allow the people to go and Nigeria is a contracting party to all these laws. Those vehicles they have seized, does it attract revenue? It does not attract revenue. Customs is not an enforcement agency, they duty is to facilitate trade.

“90 per cent of Customs work is to balance the economy. If you bring value that is too high, it will affect the economy and if you bring value that is too low, it will affect the economy. Now those vehicles are rotten away, revenue is not being collected, the vehicles are not collected and not in use. We are just wasting things.

“They should go and look at the laws and they must comply with the laws. Nigerians need vehicles for transportation but Customs seized those vehicles and allowed them to be rotten away and revenue is not generating from them while government is losing money,” he said.