… Demands apology

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has described as unacceptable and in bad taste, an Easter advert by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) titled “Jesus paid your debt, not your taxes.”

The apex Christian body described the advert as not only insulting but a mockery of the Easter celebration by Christians in Nigeria and the world over.

In a statement by its National Director, National Issues and Social Welfare, Prophet Commodore Abimbola Ayuba (rtd), CAN demanded that FIRS should tender an apology to Nigerian Christians.

CAN also called on President Bola Tinubu and the management of the FIRS to retract the message in respect for the Christian body.

It advised President Tinubu, the Minister of Finance, Wale Edun and the Department of State Services (DSS) to take cognisance of the incident to guide the FIRS in adhering to communication strategies that promote respect, unity, and cohesion.

The statement said it came to their attention that the FIRS released an Easter message that sparked significant public outcry amongst Christians.

It said: “It is with a profound sense of duty to national unity and respect for religious sentiments that we address the controversial statement “Jesus paid your debt, not your taxes” circulated by the FIRS.

“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 Easter period, a time of solemn reflection and sacred observance for Christians, should not be juxtaposed with civic obligations in a manner that trivializes or mocks core religious beliefs”.

CAN said religious convictions are at the heart of its identity and deserve the utmost respect, stating 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.

“We recognise that the intended message may have been to creatively engage taxpayers; however, the execution has regrettably crossed the bounds of cultural and religious decorum. While the FIRS’ intent may not have been to show irreverence, the impact of the message cannot be ignored.

“It is 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,” the statement said.

CAN advised all public and private organisations to exercise caution and consideration for the diverse religious backgrounds of our society.

The Christian body said: “It is crucial that communications, especially from public institutions, are crafted with a clear understanding of the cultural and religious tapestry that define our nation.

“As a nation, we must strive to uphold the principles of respect and sensitivity in all our public discourses. It is through these values that we can continue to build a truly harmonious and inclusive Nigeria.”

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