CAN speaks on FIRS’ Easter message, demands for apology 

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has condemned the Federal Inland Revenue Service’s (FIRS’) controversial Easter message, “Jesus paid your debt, not your taxes,” urging for its retraction and a public apology.

In a statement released by Prophet Commodore Abimbola Ayuba (rtd), National Director of National Issues and Social Welfare at CAN, the association called on FIRS management to acknowledge the distress caused by the message.

The statement appealed to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Minister of Finance Wale Edun, and the Department of State Security Service (DSS) to guide FIRS in communication strategies that promote unity and cohesion.

The statement emphasised the sanctity of the Easter period for Christians and underscored the need to avoid trivialising religious beliefs in public discourse.

CAN highlighted the significance of respecting religious convictions, stating that the analogy drawn by FIRS between Christian doctrine and tax obligations has been met with indignation within the Christian community.

“It has come to our attention that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (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,” the statement urged.

“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’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.

Furthermore, CAN urged all organisations, both public and private, to exercise caution and consideration for the diverse religious backgrounds of Nigerian society, emphasizing the importance of crafting communications with cultural and religious sensitivity.