CAN Condemns FIRS’ Easter Message to Christians, Demands Retraction, Public Apology

Folalumi Alaran in Abuja

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has condemned the 2024 Easter Message of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) which it deemed controversial and offensive to Christians.

In a statement, signed by the National Director of National Issues and Social Welfare, Commodore Abimbola Ayuba (rtd), the Christian body expressed concern over the Easter message which read, “Jesus paid your debt, not your taxes,” which they said juxtaposed the Christian doctrine of redemption with civic tax obligations.

CAN therefore demanded a retraction and public apology from FIRS management, urging national leaders to uphold respect and unity in public discourse.

Furthermore, it urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Minister of Finance Wale Edun, and the Department of State Security Service (DSS) to intervene and guide the FIRS in communicating messages that promote respect, unity, and cohesion.

The statement read in part,  “It has come to our attention that the FIRS has released an Easter message that has 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.

“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.”

It added: “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 Christian Association of Nigeria advises all public and private organisations to exercise caution and consideration for the diverse religious backgrounds of our society.

“It is crucial that communications, especially from public institutions, are crafted with a clear understanding of the cultural and religious tapestry that defines our nation.

“In light of recent events, we call upon the management of the FIRS to retract the message and offer a public apology for the distress caused. We also urge President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Minister of Finance, Wale Edun and the Department of State Security Service (DSS) to take cognisance of this incident and to guide the FIRS in adhering to communication strategies that promote respect, unity, and cohesion.”

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