The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) in Abia State has expressed its disapproval over the imposition of Religious Operation Permit on churches in the state.
Chikezie Elekwa, the PFN Chairman, called on Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to repeal the tax.
He stated that as non-profit organizations, churches were exempted from payment of certain taxes and rates, explaining that business entities owned by churches had been complying with extant tax laws.
Chikezie said, “Government in the state should understand that churches are their partners in progress. Besides preaching the gospel, many of them are engaged in providing employment and empowerment programmes for the people.”
Restrictions on religious practice and attempts to compel religious organizations to pay tax have always been a subject of great controversy. Religious organizations have been forceful in their rejection of proposed operating restrictions, as well as levies or taxes.
Just last year, a bill by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-rufai, seeking to regulate the public practice of religion, led to a heated national debate, generating much furore.
It remains to be seen whether or not Governor Ikpeazu can stand his ground on an issue that is so sentiment-laden that it has the potential to drain whatever goodwill a public servant enjoys.
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