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Controversial Easter message: FIRS apologises to Christians, CAN

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Controversial Easter message: FIRS apologises to Christians, CAN

CAN, FIRS

Published By: Ayorinde Oluokun

By Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on Tuesday apologized to Christians and the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN over its controversial Easter message.

The message by FIRS on a flier showing a Point of Sale (PoS) machine with the caption, “Jesus paid your debt, not your taxes” published on Easter day by the tax agency had triggered controversies, especially among Christians.

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

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

“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,” CAN said while demanding apology from the tax agency over the message.

FIRS has since deleted the message from its social media handle and in a statement on Tuesday, it issued unreserved apologies for the the way the message was interpreted and received.

FIRS, in a statement by Dare Adekanmbi, the Special Adviser (Media) to the FIRS Chairman also said the flier was not intended to “denigrate Jesus Christ or detract from the huge sacrifice He made for humanity”.

“The unintended meaning/insinuation being read into the post was not what we were out to communicate as an agency.

“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,” FIRS said.

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“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.”

READ THE FULL STATEMENT BELOW

We Will Never Denigrate Jesus Christ—-FIRS

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.

Signed

Dare ADEKANMBI

Special Adviser (Media) to the FIRS chairman

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