AWKA, Nigeria — In the small family portrait gallery hanging above the television in the cozy home of the Iloanya family, only two framed photographs remain that include the youngest son, Chijioke.
He disappeared eight years ago. His parents, Hope and Emmanuel, last saw him in handcuffs in a police station run by the feared unit known as SARS — the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
They have been searching for him ever since, along the way encountering an industry of merchants peddling hope: lawyers, human rights groups and the churches and pastors who asked for the photographs of Chijioke, promising to pray over them and help bring him back.
“They give you a prophecy that he will come back,” said Hope, a devout woman of 53, staring at the gaps on her salmon-pink wall. “Whatever they tell you to do, you do it.”
When a family’s child is taken by police, strangers show up on their doorstep. Promising help and wanting money.https://t.co/6UHgf8xVTX
— Ruth Maclean (@ruthmaclean) December 23, 2020