FIRS bows to pressure, apologises over offensive Easter message

The Federal Inland Revenue Service has apologised to the Christian Association of Nigeria over an Easter post the association described as being provocative.

The PUNCH earlier reported that the Christian body had demanded a public apology from the FIRS after the Service posted a picture on its X (formerly Twitter), #FIRSNigeria.

The service had shared a picture with the caption “Jesus paid your debts, not your taxes.”

The post had elicited reactions from Nigerians, particularly Christians.
In a statement by its National Director of National Issues and Social Welfare, Abimbola Ayuba, on Tuesday, CAN asked the FIRS to “offer a public apology for the distress caused”, while also urging private and public institutions to be cognizant of the religious diversities in the country.

In its response on Tuesday night, the service said its intention was not to denigrate the message of Easter but to engage taxpayers and to remind them of their civic duty.

In a statement signed by Dare Adekambi, Special Adviser on Media to the FIRS Chairman, Zacch Adedeji, the FIRS offered its “unreserved apologies” to CAN, adding that the agency had no religion and had no intention to offend adherents of the Christian faith.

The statement read, “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 purposely 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. “

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