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FIRS tenders ‘unreserved  apologies’ to CAN, Nigerians over offensive public communication at Easter

Mr. Zacch Adedeji, Executive Chairman of FIRS

*Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service says ‘we wish to apologise to CAN and Christians, who felt offended at the unintended consequence of our message on Easter Sunday’

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

For perhaps a momentary display of corporate irresponsibility in the agency’s Easter message, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), has apologised to Nigerians, especially the Christians over its Easter public communication that sent awry, as it was grossly considered offensive to the Christian faith during the solemn event.

ConsumerConnect reports the country’s tax administrator and regulator had crafted and posted on its social media platforms to share a Point of Sales (PoS) machine by  writing “Jesus paid your debt, not your taxes”.

Photo: FIRS

However, in its immediate reaction to the social media post considered to be indecent advertising and insensitive public communication material for such an occasion, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in a statement titled, “FIRS Easter Message: Urgent Call for Sensitivity and Respect in Public Communications”, issued Tuesday, April 2, 2024, said that it was offended by the Federal Inland Revenue Service’ message in celebration of this year’s Easter.

The Christian faith body in the country stated the copy was offensive to the Christian faithful and wanted the FIRS to apologise to Nigerians.

Prophet Commodore Abimbola Ayuba (Rtd.), National Director, National Issues and Social Welfare at CAN, in the statement, averred: “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.”

Ayuba also noted: “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.

FIRS tenders ‘unreserved apologies’ over gaffe

In line with CAN’s demand for an apology for the FIRS indecent gaffe, the Federal Inland Revenue Service Tuesday, April 2, said the Service’s intention was not to denigrate the message of Easter, but to engage taxpayers and to remind them of their civic duty.

Dare Adekambi, Special Adviser to Zacch Adedeji,  FIRS Chairman on Media, in a statement said that the FIRS offered its “unreserved apologies” to CAN in particular and Nigerians in general.

The statement noted the tax regulatory agency had no religion and had no intention to offend adherents of the Christian faith.

Adekambi stated: “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.”

FIRS said: “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.”

The Serviced also said: “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.”

The statement noted: “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.”

Adekambi further stated: “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.”

The Service restated: “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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