FIRS Apologises for Easter Message Deemed Offensive to Christians

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After the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) criticised the Easter message posted by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) via its social media handle, the agency has tendered an apology to Christians.

The post, titled: “Jesus paid your debts, not your taxes,” sparked widespread condemnation from many Nigerians who considered it disrespectful to the significance of Easter.

CAN urged President Bola Tinubu, Finance Minister Wale Edun, and the Department of State Services (DSS) to take cognisance of the social media post, and guide the FIRS to adhere to communication strategies that promote respect, unity, and cohesion.

A statement by the National Director of National Issues and Social Welfare, Prophet Commodore Abimbola Ayuba (retd.), said CAN was aware that the FIRS released an Easter message that sparked significant public outcry amongst Christians.

It 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 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…”

FIRS responded to CAN’s criticism in a statement by its Special Adviser Media, Dare Adekanmbi, saying it never intended to disrespect Jesus Christ or diminish the importance of his sacrifice.

The statement explained that “the flyer’s purpose was to engage taxpayers in a unique way, reminding them of their civic duty – prioritising tax payments”.

It however admitted that the message might have offended some Christians and acknowledged the “unintended meaning/insinuation” that the message received by many, and regretted any miscommunication.

The FIRS referred to CAN’s statement, which recognised the potential for creative taxpayer engagement, and tendered its sincere apologies again, for any misinterpretations.

In conclusion, the FIRS stressed its commitment to religious neutrality, and said that its core function is to assess, collect, and account for revenue that contributes to the overall wellbeing of the Federation.

However, some citizens have termed the excuse by the Ministry intangible; claiming that the post is biased in every way. Ore-Ofe, a fashion entrepreneur in Lagos said, “the post is insensitive in every way. In my opinion, it seemed intentional, and they already know that it would cause the stir. It is disheartening how people are so bold to make light of those things Christian hold dear.

“This is the second time such would occur. There was such a nasty post last year from a bank. Then they came to apologise. This year, it is a Public Organisation. Frankly, it is intentional…very biased. You claim to engage your customers in a unique way, which customers? Doesn’t it even sound rude to say that to a customer?

“Is the FIRS saying that all their debtors are Christians, and everyone of them has been claiming that the Lord Jesus has paid their debt? I am sure no Muslim would imply such thing in his/her communication. None. The Ramadan is on, why did they not engage the customers uniquely then?! Were the media team bereft of ideas?!

“It’s high time people are penalised for these heretical posts. A simple post of apology is not enough. They should be fined or something. If the bank that did it last year was fined heavily, everyone would have gotten a grip.”

Queen, a civil servant said, “I grew up in the North, and I watched how people were killed in 2005 just because a cartoonist in Denmark, Kurt Westergaard, drew cartoons that were to depict Islamic extremism, which the Danish Conservative news agency that requested it, gave a headline with the religion’s founder’s name.

“Churches were burnt, properties were lost over something someone in faraway Denmark did. Those people did not care if the person was an atheist or an idolater. The fact that he did what he did already made him Christian, and people in Northern Nigeria, Europe, and some other African countries went berserk. They were killing people in defence of their founder.

“If they want to truly be unique where is the unique engagement for Ramadan? Why stir up negative emotions? Is it because Christians would not readily employ violence? They should be fined.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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