Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has canvassed that churches and mosques should begin to pay tax in the country.
Falana, who expressed worry about the role of religious bodies in the fight against corruption, spoke against the backdrop of the acquisition of a jet by the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, said to have been donated by the cleric’s church members.
He stated this while delivering a lecture, ‘Asking the unasked questions: society, corruption and punishment in Nigeria’ in Lagos on Monday.
The SAN, who represented Prof. Wole Soyinka at a workshop entitled ‘the dynamics of cashless economy and emerging methods in financial crimes,’ said both society and the government had failed in the fight against corruption.
He said, “Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, someone who just acquired his own jet a couple of weeks ago, took a swipe at Pastor Tunde Bakare for condemning their crave for jets and opulent life. He (Oritsejafor) said everything a pastor could get for evangelism should be acquired, not minding the economic situation of the people
“If this is the case then, the tax authorities must extend their dragnets to all religious centres where substantial income is generated on a regular basis in the name of God. The prosperity pastors, who are buying jets to preach the gospel to those who wallow in abject poverty should be assessed according to their wealth and be made to pay commensurate taxes.
“After all, they pay appropriate fees for parking their jets at local and international airports at home and abroad.”
Falana also noted that death penalty was logical but not necessary in curbing corruption.
According to him, death penalty for crimes such as robbery has not served as a deterrent and will not work in this regard.
He said, “Notwithstanding the horrendous effect of corruption in the society, we should not be frustrated to support the campaign for the brutalization of humanity through the death penalty.
“Even in Nigeria, our experience with murder and armed robbery has proved that death penalty is not a deterrent for violent crimes.”