No going back on tax on pupils – Ekiti Govt replies Catholic Church

By The Citizen

The battle line appears drawn between the Ekiti State government and the Catholic Church over tax imposed on pupils in schools owned by the Mission.

The Ayo Fayose-led administration has insisted that the N1,000 and N500 Development Levy imposed on pupils in private and public primary and secondary schools has come to stay.

The government maintained that mission schools will not be given preference treatment over other schools and that 'no other body besides the Federal and state government has power to make policies concerning the operation of both private and public schools in the country.'

Catholic Bishop of Ekiti Diocese, the Most Rev. Felix Ajakaye, had declared the intent of the church to file a court action to stop the imposition of the levy on pupils in its schools which he said are paying various taxes to government coffers.

The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Jide Egunjobi, who said this in a statement yesterday, claimed that seven schools owned by the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti State had already complied with the government policy by paying the development levy, dismissing the threat to sue the government by the Catholic Diocese.

He said:  'It is wrong for any organisation to claim that it has its own education policy that is different from that of the state and that no law empowers the government to impose education development levy on pupils of mission schools in Ekiti State.

'Christ The King Catholic College, Ire; St. Theresa's Catholic School, Ikole ;Ave Maria International College, Osun; St. Joseph's Nursery/Primary School, Ado; Immaculate Nursery/Primary School, Ilupeju; St. Philip Catholic Nursery/Primary School, Otun and St. Louis Nursery/Primary School, Ikere have all complied with the government directive on the development levy,' he said.

The commissioner also disclosed that mission schools owned by the Anglican Diocesan, Christ Apostolic Church, Apostolic Faith, Baptist Church, Deeper Life and Muslim Societies have paid the levy.

'It has become necessary that we correct the impression the press conference addressed by the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti, Most Rev. Felix Ajakaye, on the payment of Education Development Levy in Ekiti State was meant to create.

'In some states, crèche fee, back duty levy, entertainment or merriment levy and others levies are collected from schools and mission schools are not exempted.

'Whether or not mission schools should be treated differently does not even arise because other most of the mission schools in the State have paid the developme Nationent levy. Even the Catholic Diocese that is threatening legal action, seven of its schools have paid.'