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‘Jesus Paid Your Debts, Not Your Taxes’ – FIRS Apologises To Nigerians Over ‘Offensive Easter Message’  .

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CAN Demands Apology Retraction From FIRS

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had taken an offence on the advert, describing it as provocative and offensive, while it demanded an apology from FIRS.

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has apologised to Christians over its Easter message advertisement considered as trivialising the Christian religious belief.

The tax agency in its Easter season advertisement, had said, “Jesus paid your debt, not your taxes.”

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had taken an offence on the advert, describing it as provocative and offensive, while it demanded an apology from FIRS.

The CAN National Director for National Affairs and Social Welfare, Commodore Abimbola Ayuba (retd), had noted that he was aware that the message had attracted public outrage from the Christian community.

He 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 debts, 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 trivialises or mocks core religious beliefs”.

The post was later deleted by FIRS.

However, FIRS in a statement signed by Dare Adekanmbi, Special Adviser (Media) to the FIRS chairman apologised for the message.

The agency said it did not put out the flier purposively to denigrate Jesus Christ or detract from the huge sacrifice He made for humanity.

The statement reads in part; “Our attention has been drawn to a statement by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) about a flier posted on our social media platforms with the headline “Jesus paid your debts, not your taxes.” As a responsible agency of government, we would like to say we did not put out the flier purposively to denigrate Jesus Christ or detract from the huge sacrifice He made for humanity. We are acutely aware that the essence of the Easter period is to celebrate this huge sacrifice.

“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. Yes, we would say the message ruffled feathers in some circles.

“The unintended meaning/insinuation being read into the post was not what we were out to communicate as an agency. Good a thing, this much is acknowledged by CAN in its statement wherein it said “We recognise that the intended message may have been to creatively engage taxpayers…” We wish to offer our unreserved apologies for this misinterpretation.

“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.

“We believe it is an investment in the progress of the country when citizens pay their taxes. Once again, we wish to apologise to CAN and Christians who felt offended at the unintended consequence of our message on Easter Sunday.”

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