CAN orders FIRS to apologise for Easter message

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CAN has described the message as “offensive and derogatory” to the Christian faith.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), on Tuesday in Abuja, called on the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to retract its Easter message and offer a public apology.

The National Director, National Issues and Social Welfare (CAN), Abimbola Ayuba, in a statement, said the FIRS’ Easter message had threatened Nigeria’s unity and undermined respect among diverse religious groups.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the FIRS message was “Jesus paid your debt, not your taxes.”

CAN, while reacting to it, described the message as “offensive and derogatory” to the Christian faith.

“The Easter message by FIRS does not only threaten Nigeria’s delicate unity but also undermines the efforts of many Nigerians working towards fostering mutual respect among diverse religious groups.

“As a nation that prides itself on religious harmony and peaceful coexistence, we are deeply concerned by the recurrence of provocative messages around religious holidays.

“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.

“Such messages not only threaten the delicate fabric of our national unity but also undermine the efforts of countless Nigerians working towards fostering mutual respect among diverse religious groups,” the statement state.

NAN also reports that the FIRS’ Easter message has sparked serious controversy.

In its Easter message signed by its Chairman, Muhammad Nami, FIRS emphasised the need for Christians to pay their taxes as a form of religious obligation. This has drawn criticism with some people feeling that the revenue agency was insensitive and had religious biases. It has also attracted debates over the role of government agencies in promoting religious harmony and respect for diverse beliefs in Nigeria.

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Critics have argued that while tax compliance is important, public messages should be inclusive and respectful of all religious groups to avoid fueling tensions in the country.

CAN, while expressing its reservation, has also called on public and private organisations to exercise caution and always consider the diverse religious backgrounds of Nigerian society in their communications.

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