Vanguard (Lagos)

3 December 2012

Nigeria: Anglican Cleric Flays Calls for Tax On Churches, Mosques

Abuja — Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, weekend, said calls on Federal Government to extend tax to churches and mosques should not be taken with seriousness. He said it was unjustifiable.

Recently, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, at a forum in Lagos, suggested that taxes be imposed on churches and mosques in the country, in view of the acquisition of private jets by religious figures.

The Primate, who reacted to the call during the 14th Carnival for Christ and the 23rd Anniversary of the Anglican Diocese of Abuja, tagged Experiencing the Resurrection Power, said there should be control instead, if there were excesses.

Okoh maintained that it would be wise if Churches and Mosques in the country enjoyed support from government in view of their strategic roles in the society.

He said: "It has never been done. If there are excesses in one or two individuals, it is not a justification for government to impose taxes on the church. The church has never been a beneficiary of government allocation.

"The state gathers together and share monthly allocation, no church has received any share. The church as a partner with government in progress actually has to be funded because a lot of people are employed by churches, schools.

"Charity organisations are also run by the church.

"Instead of government asking the church to bring money, the government should be the one giving money to the church and support its programmes."

Falana, who represented Prof. Wole Soyinka at a workshop entitled The Dynamics of Cashless Economy and Emerging Methods in Financial Crimes, had expressed worry about the role of religious bodies in the fight against corruption.

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