9th July, 2010
TAXATION OF PILGRIMS IS UNJUSTIFIABLE
Reports reaching our office indicate that the Lagos State Government has set in motion the machinery for collecting the sum of N50,000.00 as tax from every intending pilgrim registered with the state's Pilgrims' Board.
While we like to assume that this cannot be true and that it still remains a rumour, we owe it a duty to our teeming members across the state who have complained to us to seek clarification from the state government.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), true to our avowed commitment to dialogue and the maintenance of social equilibrium, call on the government of Lagos State to make a statement on the issue. Such a statement will debunk the rumour if it is not true and render asunder attempts by spoilers to cause disaffection between the state government and the Muslim population.
Nonetheless, if it is true, the government must explain to the citizens of the state why it is so. Did the authorities consult the stakeholders before introducing such a measure? We call the attention of the Lagos State Government to the socio-economic quagmire facing Nigerians in general and the people of Lagos in particular. This situation turns any taxation of pilgrims into an unjustifiable affliction.
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is therefore a religious duty and not a business trip which can attract extra income for the state government. On the contrary, the Lagos State government is expected to add its own input into measures calculated to make the exercise easy for the pilgrims.
MURIC therefore appeals to the Lagos State Government to rescind its decision if it is true that intending pilgrims are being taxed.
MURIC also wishes to remind the state Pilgrims Board of the need to appreciate the excruciating pains which pilgrims go through before completing the processes of hajj. There is therefore an urgent need to simplify the exercise.
Dr. Is-haq Akintola
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)