CAN protests FIRS’ ‘Jesus debt’ Easter message

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The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has protested against the Federal Inland Revenue Service’s (FIRS’) recent Easter message bearing “Jesus paid your debt, not your taxes” as insensitive and derogatory.

This was contained in a statement on Tuesday by CAN’s Director, National Issues and Social Welfare, Commodore Abimbola Ayuba (Rtd).

Commodore Ayuba said that as a nation that prided itself on religious harmony and peaceful coexistence, CAN was deeply concerned by the recurrence of provocative messages around religious holidays.

The statement reads in part: “This year, a public institution which should be the bastion of exemplary conduct has been implicated in disseminating content that is widely regarded as offensive and derogatory to the Christian faith.

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“The analogy drawn by the FIRS between the pivotal Christian doctrine of redemption and the civic duty of tax payment has been received with distress and indignation by the Christian community.”

He noted that the association recognised that the intended message might have been to creatively engage taxpayers; but that the execution regrettably crossed the bounds of cultural and religious decorum.

He said while the FIRS’s intent might not have been to show irreverence, the impact of the message could not be ignored, and that it was imperative to remember that the use of religious symbols and narratives should be handled with the highest degree of sensitivity, especially when intersecting with secular matters.

In a swift reaction, Dare Adekanmbi, Special Adviser Media to the FIRS chairman,yesterday apologised to CAN and Christians who felt offended at the unintended consequence of its message on Easter Sunday.

He said as a responsible agency of government, “we would like to say we did not put out the flier purposely to denigrate Jesus Christ or detract from the huge sacrifice He made for humanity. 

“The message was our way of uniquely engaging taxpayers and to remind them of the need to prioritise payment of their taxes as a civic obligation.

“FIRS, as a responsible agency, has no religion and will not bring down any religion or offend the sensibilities of adherents of various faiths in the country. Our goal is to assess, collect and account for revenue for the wellbeing of the Federation.”

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