ISSUES: UNDERSTANDING NCS’s APPROACH TO DISPOSAL OF SEIZED, OVERTIME AND UNSERVICEABLE ITEMS

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In the complex realm of Customs and Excise Management , the Nigeria Customs Service plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the nation’s interests. Central to this role is managing seized overtime and unserviceable goods ( motor vehicles and equipment).

The first category, overtime goods , consists of uncleared cargoes that have lingered in warehouses or approved locations for an extended period . The Nigeria Customs Service ( NCS) Act, 2023 grants Customs the authority to categorize these goods, which are subsequently subjected to court condemnation after becoming overdue.

The Assessment Committee, comprising a minimum of five officers , including Auction/Overtime Unit, Valuation Officers, Customs Intelligence Unit ( CIU) members and Area Command personnel, appraises these goods and sets their prices based on a standard.

The reports from this committee are then sent to two auction committees responsible for managing the disposal process.

The NCS then informs the public about these auctions through media outlets and it’s official website, providing a one-month grace period , before the auction.

The auction value is determined by the duty payable on the consignment and an additional 10% depreciation value per year.

Seized goods fall under the provisions of Section 245 of the NCS Act , which specify the forfeiture of improperly imported goods and associated penalties. Seized goods are classified into three Categories:

1. PERISHABLE GOODS: These goods are handled by the Area Commands, headed by the Area Controller with support from officers specializing in Valuation, CIU and other relevant agencies as needed.

2. GENERAL GOODS: These goods can only be disposed of, after receiving condemnation from a competent court of law, provided there are no claims or ongoing litigation. The condemnation process takes place within 30 days after the seizure.

3. VEHICLES: The process for disposal of seized vehicles adheres to Section 119 of the NCS Act. This Section outlines that goods deemed forfeited under Sub- section 1 of the Act may be sold or disposed of by the Comptroller General or under his directions. He has the authority to determine the best method of selling or disposing of these goods.

The NCS has a structured approach for managing seized vehicles:
(I) SERVICEABLE VEHICLES: These are directly auctioned to Ministries, Departments and Agencies ( MDAs).
(II) FAIRLY SERVICEABLE VEHICLES: They are assessed and uploaded to E- Auction platforms.
(III) UNSERVICEABLE VEHICLES: These are directed to a disposal committee for allocation to recycling companies.

Finally, under the guidelines , Unserviceable Goods , such as Stores , Buildings, Plants, Motor Vehicles and Equipment , can be written off and disposed of by the accounting officer’s personal authority. This is allowed when their estimated value does no exceed the specific limits , such as N500,000 for motor vehicles and equipment. To calculate the estimated value of motor vehicles, a set of guidelines considers the age of the vehicle, leading to a percentage – based reduction in the original cost.

These well- structured guidelines ensures transparency and efficiency in handling seized , overtime and unserviceable items , thus creating opportunities to turn liabilities into assets and generate revenue for the nation.

Culled from NCS Official Newsletter, October 2023 edition .

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