Civil servants in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Wednesday called on the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to suspend its ongoing e-auction following difficulties and inability of many of them to access the auction platform.
They said the suspension would enable the Federal Inland Revenue service (FIRS) to integrate the Joint Tax Board (JTB) Tax Identification Number (TIN) in the system.
A cross section of the workers told the News Agency Nigeria (NAN) that the JTB TIN, which was mostly used by civil servants, was not being accepted by the Customs e-auction platform.
According to them, this makes it difficult for JTB TIN users to participate in the excise.
”So there is need to suspend the ongoing exercise to enable FIRS to integrate JTB TIN into Customs e-auction platform to give all Nigerians equal opportunity,” they said.
Mr Solomon Oluwaseun, one of the workers, said it was unfortunate that he had not been able to participate in the bidding for vehicles and other items even as a registered tax payer.
Oluwaseun said he visited the JTB office in Asokoro, FCT, with some of his colleagues but were told that nothing was wrong with their TIN.
” Customs should suspend the e-auction portal until it can verify the TIN of all legitimate tax payer, including the civil servants.
” We are all Nigerians and we all have equal rights as tax payers to participate in this customs e-auction platform,” he said.
Mrs Florence Okeke, another civil servant, also complained of the same challenge which she had already lodged with the JTB.
“I learnt that the NSC portal only verifies the old FIRS TIN and those issued to private companies. This is unfair,” Okeke said.
She urged the FIRS to collect taxes and also ensure that the tax payers benefited from public activities such as the e-auction.
“We as Nigerians all need to do the right thing at the right time,” she added.
According to Mrs Elizabeth Aleburu, “I think FIRS and Customs need to work together and rectify this pending issues of JTB TIN.”
Mr Suleiman Abdullahi asked, “is it right that as a taxpayer, I cannot participate in the ongoing Customs e-auction for no fault of mine?”
Abdullahi said that he had tried to use his JTB TIN to register right from the first batch of the bidding process but yet no success.
” I think this is the issue of the FIRS and the JTB; they need to integrate into Customs portal for all civil servants with JTB TIN to be able to participate.
” FIRS, JTB and Customs need to work together fast to ensure that civil servants with JTB TIN get to participate before the end of the second batch of the bidding process,” he said.
A source at the JTB, however, told NAN that the staff of JTB was also not able to register on the portal with their JTB TIN.
The source said that many civil servants had visited the JTB office since the launch of the platform to lodge complaints but after verifying their TIN, there was nothing wrong with it.
“We have also been receiving calls from states with same complaints of their TIN not being accepted by the customs portal,” he said.
He said that some corporate tax paying workers had visited the office to update their email addresses and claimed that they were able to register with their corporate TIN.
Responding, Customs Public Relations Officer, Mr Joseph Attah, said that the issue of civil servants not being able to register with their JTB TIN was the issues of FIRS, not Customs.
Attah said that was the reason the NCS had been announcing all the while the e-auction portal could only be accessed with only FIRS TIN.
“They should sort themselves out with the FIRS because once FIRS TIN is synchronised with customs portal, that is all.
“We said TIN from FIRS is what our platform accepts. Thus, this is not Customs issue but FIRS,” Attah said.
A NAN correspondent who visited JTB office in Asokoro met almost 50 civil servants waiting to lodge complaints on the JTB TIN.
Efforts made by the NAN correspondent to get comments from the FIRS failed as the service Public Relations Officer, Mr Wahab Gbadamosi, did not respond to phone calls and text messages made to him. (NAN)