A pastor in Sierra Leone has discovered the largest uncut diamond found in the West African country for more than four decades and has turned it over to the government, saying he hopes it helps to boost recent development in his impoverished nation. Pastor Emmanuel Momoh found the 706-carat alluvial diamond in Yakadu village in Sierra Leone's diamond-rich east, and it was presented to President Ernest Bai Koroma on Wednesday, the AP reports. The gem, a bit smaller than a hockey puck, is the second largest diamond found in Sierra Leone. In 1972, the 968.9-carat Star of Sierra Leone was found by miners and sold for about $2.5 million.
Momoh tells the AP that he turned in the diamond because he was touched by the development being undertaken in Kono District, where the gem was found. He cited road construction and improvements to electricity after almost 30 years of blackouts. The president expressed appreciation that there was no attempt to smuggle the gem out of the country and encouraged others to emulate the pastor's example. "A gift from God, and it will be a terrible thing if anyone tries to do something criminal with it," the president said, promising to sell the diamond to the highest bidder and distribute the proceeds to the government in a transparent manner.