Political party 'apparatchiks' crowd auction of seized goods and cars

BY: Della Russel Ocloo

A public auction advertised by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) on Thursday, saw scores of people claiming to be political party foot soldiers in attendance and asking for favours and advantage to bid for items of their choice.

They accosted officials of Customs at the State Warehouse inside the Tema Port and requested for special favours to enable them bid for items of their choice which was on auction.

Graphic Online's Della Russel Ocloo in Tema observed that while some held photographs they had taken with high powered officials as a proof of their links to persons in high places, and showed the photographs to Customs officials, others claimed they were specifically directed to see particular high ranking Customs officials to be assisted to bid for items of their choice.

A woman who claimed her container had been detained for a little over three years told officials she was directed by a political party chairman [name withheld] so her container could be allocated to her as part of the goods on auction.

The auction had several items including food items, electronic gadgets and vehicles on offer for sale.

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The items had been confiscated to the state in line with the Customs Act, 891, section 52/53 of 2015.

A senior official of Customs at a point queried some of the claimants whether the said party chairman actually knew him in person and mentioned his name to those claiming he directed them to him, to which they could not provide any tangible response.

The auction, saw bidders jostling and screaming the names of the auctioneers in their bid to outbid each other.

Some 20 and 40 footer containers full of products were sold at prices ranging from GHc26,000 to GHc40,000 among others.

The head of the State Warehouse, Chief Revenue Officer, Mr Lawrence Anang, told Graphic Online that, when such people come using the names of public officials, they direct them to go through the process since it is a public auction.

“We do not just allocate containers and items on auction to people who come around claiming to have been sent by a person in government or a high ranking political leader”, Mr Anang told Graphic Online.

He added that once, the processes were advertised as public auctions, all persons interested in any form of goods, “they ought to go through the due process as stipulated by the Customs law”, he stressed.

Read also: Scores turn up at GRA auctioning of confiscated goods

Auction of vehicles

During the public auction of vehicles on day two - Friday - some members of the public queried the neutrality of the auctioneers appointed by Customs.

The complaint followed the calling out of names of some bidders by one of the auctioneers.

While a VW saloon vehicle was called out and other bidders screamed GHc15,000, the auctioneer called out a bidder by name and that person quoted GHc14,000 for the said car.

While some bidders aggressively pursued their bid, others just stood and looked on.

The auction which was done on cash payment basis saw some bidders who initially won bids reselling to potential buyers at high prices.

A buyer who bought a damaged 2016 Toyota Yaris at GHc7,000 was offering it for resale on the spot at Ghc15,000.