By Our Correspondent,Ibadan
Leaders of Religious organisations in Oyo State on Wednesday in Ibadan rejected the decision of the state government informing them to pay security levies on their organizations in order to prevent spreading to Oyo state,the wave of robberies growing in the neighbouring states.
On Tuesday, stakeholders met in the state capital and resolved that churches and mosques are to henceforth pay to government coffers, specific amount of money as security levies stating that this was in compliance with section11(4) of the security Trust Fund Law 2017 of the Pace Setter state.
At the meeting presided over by the state Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi who was represented by his Deputy, Chief Moses Alake Adeyemo were the state Commissioner of Police Abiodun Odude,representatives of the Army, SSS,,Customs and others
Churches and mosques according to the recommendations,are to pay N60,000 per annum ,manufacturing companies between N80,000 and N100-000 depending on their d sizes while agricultural companies will pay N50,000
In their reactions, Professor Sabit Ariyo Olagoke the Founder and Spiritual Head of Shafaudeen1n Islam came hard on the state government’s describing it as ill -timed,exploitative and ungodly.
Olagoke who is a Justice of Peace and President of Ajagun Esin Consultative Forum (AECF) said “the plan of government is ill timed and wicked because most of the people in mosques and churches are groaning under poverty and hunge. Salaries are not paid and the little they are paid areare 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 patrionized 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, Dr.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 disagreed with the proposed security levy arguing that Jehovah was the only one to secure his life adding that such security levy could be termed extortion.
It would be recalled that in the last seven and half years of Ajimobi’s administration,incidents of armed robbery and violent crimes have refused drastically in the state which was notorious for violence from members of motor unions under the aegis of NURTW during the last administration.