Some prominent lawyers are unimpressed by the recommendation of some delegates at the ongoing national confab in Abuja that religious organisations should pay tax.
They described the move as clear misplacement of priorities.
Human rights lawyer, Mr Bamidele Aturu, urged the delegates to focus on important issues that would foster unity and development of the country. He argued that it is the duty of the national assembly to promulgate such laws, especially as non-payment of taxes by religious organisations is not an issue in Nigeria.
“For me, it is a misplacement of their priorities, and they are only going to create more controversies that may make their report unacceptable at the end of the day,” Aturu told NAN.
Another lawyer, Mr Wale Ogunade, said the conference ought to address issues relating to 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,” he said.
“The delegates should be concerned about 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.”
Lagos-based lawyer, Uche Edeh, warned that taxing religious organisations could lead to crisis, because it would be difficult to enforce. He advised Nigerians to exercise caution on the issue in order not to heat up the polity.
However, Mr Adebamigbe Omole, a former chairman of the Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), supported therecommendation of the conference, saying some religious centres have been commercialized.
“They are “making so much money and the best thing for us to do is to make them to pay taxes, because the government needs money.”