Friday, 30 May 2014

Aturu, others against religious organisations paying taxes

In the file: Worshippers pray into the New Year at the Redemption Camp
Some prominent lawyers in Lagos on Thursday kicked against the payment of taxes by religious organisations in the country.
Delegates at the ongoing National Conference in Abuja had on Wednesday voted in support of taxing both churches and mosques.

The lawyers told NAN that the move by the conference was a clear misplacement of priorities.
Human rights lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, said the delegates should focus on important issues that would foster the unity and development of Nigeria.
Aturu said it was the duty of the National Assembly to promulgate such laws, adding that the non-payment of taxes by religious organisations was not an issue in Nigeria.
“For me, it is a misplacement of their priorities and they are only going to create more controversies which may make their report unacceptable at the end of the day,” he said.
Wale Ogunade, said the conference should address issues such as unemployment, poverty, corruption and national unity.
“This is just a diversion because there are more pressing issues. The government has not exhausted the money being generated from oil and other mineral resources.
“The delegates should be concerned with how to make the government accountable to Nigerians on how our resources are being spent.
“By doing this, many Nigerians, including churches and mosques, will voluntarily start paying their taxes”.
Uche Edeh, a Lagos-based lawyer, said taxing religious organisations could lead to crisis because it would be difficult to enforce.
Edeh advised Nigerians to exercise caution on the issue in order not to heat up the polity.
Adebamigbe Omole, former Chairman of the Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, however, supported the recommendation of the conference.
“I am in total support because some of the religious centres have been commercialised.
“They are making so much money and I think the best thing for us to do is to make them to pay taxes because the government needs money,” he said.

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