Hundreds gather for unveiling of huge statue of Jesus

Almost nine metres high and weighing 40 tonnes, the statue has been named "Jesus de Greatest".Twitter @Austynzogs

Hundreds of worshippers turned out on Friday to celebrate the unveiling of Africa's largest statue of Jesus.

Standing in the grounds of St Aloysius Catholic Church in Abajah, Nigeria, the white marble statue shows Jesus with his arms outstretched, and will be a "great symbol of Christian faith", presiding bishop Augustine Tochukwu Okwuoma said.

According to the Premium Times, the bishop gave a mass ahead of the statue's official unveiling. He said he hoped it would "continue to constantly remind us of what Jesus Christ stands for us".

For passers by, the statue will "bring them closer to Jesus," he added.

Almost nine metres high and weighing 40 tonnes, the statue has been named "Jesus de Greatest". It was commissioned and paid for by a local businessman, Obinna Onunoha, who previously funded the construction of the 2,000 seater St Aloysius church.

"Asking why I constructed this statue is like asking how do I came to this world, I am a Christian and a Catholic and Jesus statue represents my faith," he told the Times.

"I believe we are here on earth for different purposes and each person moves with his/her instincts, and I was motivated to do this to build up the faith of this community."

Onunoha also said he believed the statue would attract people from all over Africa and beyond. "It's the biggest statue of Jesus on the continent. Definitely pilgrims will come."

Nigeria's population is split almost evenly between Muslims and Christians, but the country has suffered heavily under attacks from Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, which operates largely in the northern region of the country.