Leaders of religious organisations in Oyo state on Wednesday, in Ibadan, rejected the decision of the state government asking them to pay security levies on their organisations in order to prevent the state from the wave of robberies growing in the neighbouring states.
OYO INSIGHT had reported how the state government on Tuesday, resolved that churches and mosques would be paying to government coffers, specific amount of money as security levies, stating that it is in compliance with section 11(4)of the Security Trust Fund Law 2017 of the pace setter state.
Churches and Mosques according to the recommendations, are to pay N60,000 per annum, manufacturing companies between would be paying between N80,000 and N100,000 depending on their sizes while agricultural companies would be paying N50,000.
Speaking on the proposed levy, the founder and spiritual head of Shafaudeen in Islam, Professor Sabit Ariyo Olagoke, came hard on the state government’s describing it as ill-timed, exploitative and ungodly.
Olagoke said: “The plan of government is ill-timed and wicked because most of the people in mosques and churches are groaning under poverty and hunger. Salaries are not paid and the little they are paid are not enough to offset the debts of believers in churches and mosques.”
He explained in Ibadan during a telephone chat that people heading religious organisations could be grouped in four categories which are those genuinely called, political apologists, religious ‘commercialists’ who are out to make money and are being patrionised by government as well as religious hypocrites.
Olagoke pointed out that it was those religious leaders who are government apologists that would buy the idea of paying security levies, adding that whatever name it is given, it is double taxation and it should be condemned.
“Government should be able to identify the area of social responsibility of religious houses which are not set up for revenue generation but to mould the society and call people to righteousness,” he added.
The former president of Aladura church of Nigeria, Olapade Agoro, was of the view that churches and mosques should be exempted from the levy, pointing out that the trend might cause confusion as most of the religious organisations are not business outfits.
A member of Jehovah Witness who preferred to be anonymous also disagreed with the proposed security levy. He argued that Jehovah was the only one to secure his life, adding that such security levy could be termed extortion.