No voter's card, no communion: church

Nsukka, Nigeria - A Catholic diocese in Nigeria has instructed parishioners to show they have registered to vote in April elections or forsake the right to take communion.

The diocese of Nsukka in the south-eastern state of Enugu circulated a bulletin in Catholic churches on Sunday telling the faithful that they had to make their vote count in this year's elections despite Nigeria's long history of poll rigging, newspaper This Day reported on Tuesday.

"Whoever has not collected the voter's card after February 7 has automatically alienated himself or herself from the community, the Church, the nation and will not be allowed to receive the holy communion," the bulletin said according to This Day.

Church leaders often comment on political issues in Nigeria, a fervently religious country about evenly split between Christians and Muslims.

Nigerians are due to elect their president, state governors and lawmakers in polls that should mark the first handover from one democratic government to another in Africa's most populous nation and biggest oil producer.

"You might have often heard ... that the election has been concluded, that your votes will not count and that you will definitely be wasting your precious time if you go out to vote," the bulletin from the Nsukka diocese was quoted as saying.

"The Catholic Secretariat of Nsukka wishes to inform you that (this is) calculated political propaganda aimed at creating despondency in you so that they will steal away an unmerited victory."