FIRS Apologises to CAN Over Easter Message

Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has said that as a responsible corporate entity, it would never denigrate Jesus Christ.
FIRS had posted a flier on its social media platforms with the headline: “Jesus paid your debts, not your taxes.”

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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. We are acutely aware that the essence of the Easter period is to celebrate this huge sacrifice.

But the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday condemned the advert placed in the media and circulated by FIRS on Easter day and demanded an apology from the tax agency.

CAN called on the management of the FIRS to retract the message and offer a public apology for the distress the advert caused, urging President Bola Tinubu, the minister of finance, Wale Edun and the Department of State Services (DSS) to take cognizance of this incident and to guide the FIRS in adhering to communication strategies that promote respect, unity, and cohesion.

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In a reaction last night, FIRS said the message was “our way of uniquely engaging taxpayers and to remind them of the need to priorities 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 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 apologies to CAN and Christians who felt offended at the unintended consequence of our message on Easter Sunday.

In a statement issued on behalf of the association, signed by the national director of National Issues and Social Welfare, CAN, Prophet (Commodore) Abimbola Ayuba (rtd), yesterday, the association stated that it came to their attention that the FIRS released an Easter message that sparked significant public outcry amongst Christians.
“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.

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“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,” he stated.

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According to CAN, religious convictions are at the heart of their identity and deserve the utmost respect, that 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 recognize 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’s 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…” he stated.

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