Catholic Church Threatens Suit against Ekiti Govt over Education Tax

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Olakiitan Victor in Ado Ekiti

Following the introduction of N1,000 development for both public and private schools in Ekiti State by Governor Ayodele Fayose’s government, the Catholic diocese of Ekiti has threatened to sue the government over the action it described as s a flagrant violation of the country’s tax policy.

It requested the state government to exempt its schools from payment of education development levy, or face serious legal action.

A statement issued yesterday by the bishop of the diocese, Most Rev. Felix Ajakaye, threatened  to institute a legal action against the government “in the circumstance that any of the schools under my custody is disturbed” for the payment of education levy. The cleric said under the Ekiti State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) Law, 2005, the state government had the mandatory obligation to provide free and compulsory education for every child of primary or junior secondary school age.

He added: “No law empowers the state government of Ekiti to impose Education Development Levy on pupils/students of mission schools in
Ekiti State.”

Expressing serious concern on the propriety of the new levy, Ajakaye said that the church viewed the new tax as another burden on parents whom he said were already overwhelmed with taxes in different forms by the state government.

He recalled with pain how the state, under the military regime in 1975, “forcibly” took over 106 Catholic primary schools with seven secondary schools and one technical school without compensation, adding that the new tax was unnecessary more so that new schools established by the church had been paying various levies and taxes
demanded by both local and state governments.

“The Catholic church in Ekitiland implores the state government to see the church as great contributor to quality education and a formidable partner in the development of education in the state. Therefore, the status of the Catholic schools must be recognised as defined by their purposes and they should be treated accordingly,” Ajakaye added.

The state government had in its bid to increase its internally generated revenue (IGR) introduced various taxes including the education development tax.

Under the new tax, each student of primary and secondary schools in private and public schools is required to pay N500 and N1,000 respectively per session.