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46 migrants found dead in abandoned trailer in United States

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Forty-six people were found dead after being abandoned in a tractor-trailer on a remote back road in San Antonio in what marked the latest tragedy to claim the lives of migrants smuggled across the border from Mexico to the US.

Sixteen people were hospitalised, including four children.

A city worker heard a cry for help from the truck shortly before 6pm Monday and discovered the gruesome scene, Police Chief William McManus said.

Hours later, body bags lay spread on the ground near the trailer as a grim symbol of the calamity.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the 46 who died had “families who were likely trying to find a better life.”

“This is nothing short of a horrific human tragedy,” Nirenberg said.

It’s among the deadliest tragedies to have claimed thousands of lives of people attempting to cross the US border from Mexico in recent decades.

Ten migrants died in 2017 after being trapped inside a truck that was parked at a Walmart in San Antonio.

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In 2003, 19 migrants were found in a sweltering truck southeast of San Antonio.

The home countries of the immigrants and how long they were abandoned on the side of the road was not immediately known.

South Texas has long been the busiest area for illegal border crossings. Migrants ride in vehicles though Border Patrol checkpoints to San Antonio, the closest major city, from which point they disperse across the United States.

A city worker at the scene on a remote back road in southwest San Antonio was alerted to the situation by a cry for help shortly before 6pm Monday, Police Chief William McManus said.

Officers arrived to find a body on the ground outside the trailer and a partially opened gate to the trailer, he said.

Hours later, body bags lay spread on the ground near the trailer as a grim symbol of the calamity.

Bodies still remained inside.

Of the 16 taken to hospitals with heat-related illnesses, 12 were adults and four were children, said Fire Chief Charles Hood.

The patients were hot to the touch and dehydrated, and no water was found in the trailer, he said.

“They were suffering from heat stroke and exhaustion,” Hood said. “It was a refrigerated tractor-trailer, but there was no visible working AC unit on that rig.”

Those in the trailer were part of a presumed migrant smuggling attempt into the United States, and the investigation was being led by US Homeland Security Investigations, McManus said.

Three people were taken into custody, but it was unclear if they were definitively connected with human trafficking, McManus said.

Big rigs emerged as a popular smuggling method in the early 1990s amid a surge in US border enforcement in San Diego and El Paso, Texas, which were then the busiest corridors for illegal crossings.

Before that, people paid small fees to mom-and-pop operators to get them across a largely unguarded border.

As crossing became exponentially more difficult after the 2001 terror attacks in the US, migrants were led through more perilous terrain and paid thousands of dollars more.

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Heat poses a serious danger, particularly when temperatures can rise severely inside vehicles.

Weather in the San Antonio area was mostly cloudy Monday, but temperatures approached 100 degrees.

Some advocates drew a link to the Biden administration’s border policies.

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director at the American Immigration Council, wrote that he had been dreading such a tragedy for months.

“With the border shut as tightly as it is today for migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, people have been pushed into more and more dangerous routes. Truck smuggling is a way up,” he wrote on Twitter.

Stephen Miller, a chief architect of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, said, “Human smugglers and traffickers are wicked and evil” and that the administration’s approach to border security rewards their actions.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican running for reelection, was blunt in a tweet about the Democratic president: “These deaths are on Biden. They are a result of his deadly open border policies.”

Migrants — largely from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — have been expelled more than two million times under a pandemic-era rule in effect since March 2020 that denies them a chance to seek asylum but encourages repeat attempts because there are no legal consequences for getting caught.

People from other countries, notably Cuba, Nicaragua and Colombia, are subject to Title 42 authority less frequently due to higher costs of sending them home, strained diplomatic relations and other considerations.

US Customs and Border Protection reported 557 deaths on the southwest border in the 12-month period ending September 30, more than double the 247 deaths reported in the previous year and the highest since it began keeping track in 1998. Most are related to heat exposure.

CBP has not published a death tally for this year but said that the Border Patrol performed 14,278 “search-and-rescue missions” in a seven-month period through May, exceeding the 12,833 missions performed during the previous 12-month period and up from 5,071 the year before.

Yahoo News.

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Motorists, commuters attack highway robbers on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway with stones, cutlasses

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Brave motorists and commuters on Wednesday fought with stones and cutlasses highways robbers who had come to rob them of their valuables in the early morning traffic on the Long Bridge of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

Initially, there was apprehension on the bridge, inward Lagos State, opposite Mikano/Karameh City, around 5.55am when four gun-wielding men in black came, taking advantage of the traffic jam and started robbing motorists.
However, Vanguard reported that some passengers and motorists summoned courage to disrupt their operations by pelting them with stones.
Narrating his experience to Vanguard, a passenger said he was in a Mazda car that took off from Mowe, Ogun State.
According to Owokunle, seven passengers were on board the Mazda car, when the armed men were sighted in black cardigans, robbing unsuspecting road users.
He said: “The journey was very smooth from Mowe, but as we approached the Long Bridge, the driver was advised to be alert because of the perennial gridlock ahead.
“Shortly after, the driver sighted the suspects on the bridge stopping and robbing road users.
“People were scared and many drivers and passengers abandoned their vehicles and fled in different directions. “Fortunately, one of the road users shouted at the top of his voice, advising co-road users to stop running and to face the suspects.
“This was how the road users pelted the suspects with stones, while some drivers brought out cutlasses and rods to face the suspects.
“Sensing danger, the suspects descended the bridge and disappeared.”
Another road user, who simply gave his name as Gabriel, corroborated Owokunle, saying two car owners were robbed in his presence before the road users began a counter attack.
“This angered us and we faced the suspects with pebbles, cutlasses and rods,” he added.
Another road user, Aramide, said out of fear someone jumped from the bridge and this may lead to serious injuries.
“But nobody could wait to attend to him as people continued their journey after the nasty experience,” he said.
Spokesperson for Lagos State Police Command, SP Abimbola Oyeyemi, said that policemen had been detailed to some sensitive areas of the expressway to curtail suspicious activities.
He was reacting to an alarm by one Pastor Olaleye Gbenga of The Redeemed Christian Church, RCCG, claiming that some 20 persons were kidnapped on the Kara Bridge, along Lagos/Ibadan Expressway.
Lately, many motorists and commuters have lamented being trapped in the traffic induced by the ongoing road construction on the expressway, particularly around the Otedola Bridge, Kara and Long Bridge.
Motorists and commuters, while lamenting over the situation, were heard complaining that the road had become narrow due to the construction, and had slowed down vehicular movements.
The situation, however, worsened as robbers take advantage of the traffic to rob.
Some road users told Vanguard there was urgent need for government to beef up security on the expressway.

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Ritual: Pastor, accomplice to die for beheading seven-year-old

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Pastor, Erinmole Adetokunbo, and his accomplice, Adedoyin Oyekanmi

Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Lagos State Special Offences Court sitting at Ikeja, on Tuesday, sentenced a pastor, Erinmole Adetokunbo, and his accomplice, Adedoyin Oyekanmi, to death for killing a seven-year-old boy in the Ikorodu area of the state.

Justice Taiwo gave the verdict after the defendants changed their pleas from not guilty to guilty.

The men were arraigned on October 30, 2017, before the Lagos State High Court on two counts bordering on conspiracy and murder.

According to the charge sheet, Oyekanmi and Adetokunbo, on June 7, 2017, on Oke Oniburokun Street, Odokekere, Ikorodu, conspired to murder a seven-year-old boy, Kazeem Rafiu.

They were said to have beheaded Rafiu and buried the head around the church’s altar, while the body was kept in a canal.

Adetokunbo was later apprehended by residents. He was said to have confessed to the crime, naming Oyekanmi as his accomplice.

The duo led a team of policemen to the church, where the victim’s remains were recovered.

After four years of being remanded in prison, the state re-arraigned the convicts before the special offences court on September 21, 2021, as the trial commenced.

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At the resumption of trial for the prosecutor to present another witness to prove the allegations against the convicts, the court was informed by the state counsel, Mrs O. A. Bajulaiye, and the defence counsel, Ms Anthonia Otsokwa, that the men had decided to change their pleas.

Subsequently, the judge ordered their pleas to be taken.

The charges were read to them in Yoruba and they pleaded guilty to the two counts.

The state counsel, Mrs O. A. Bajulaiye, thereafter reviewed the facts of the case and urged the court to convict them accordingly.

While begging for mercy, the defence counsel, Ms Anthonia Otsokwa, told the court that the convicts had realised their offence and were remorseful for the death of the child.

In her judgement, Justice Taiwo noted that the case was a pathetic one as the defendants conspired and killed a child by cutting off his head for ritual purposes.

The judge said, “These defendants have committed a heinous crime and deserve no mercy. They have cruelly and intentionally killed a seven-year-old boy, depriving him and his family of a bright destiny.

“Section 222 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State imposes the death penalty for premeditated murder and I have no hesitation in imposing the said punishment.

“I hereby sentence Adedoyin Oyekanmi and Erinwole Adetokunbo to death for killing Kazeem Rafiu. May God have mercy on your souls.”

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Fake Ekiti doctor defrauds 25 PoS operators

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Ekiti State Commandant of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, John Fayemi

Men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Ekiti State, have arrested a 36-year-old man, Ayodeji Ademiluyi, for allegedly parading himself as a medical doctor and defrauding Point-of-Sale operators in the state capital.

The state Commandant of the agency, Mr John Fayemi, said the suspect defrauded the operators by sending fake alerts after collecting cash from them.

He said the suspect used an application on his phone, which also triggered a call from his fake hospital that a patient needed his attention.

“The PoS operator will then consider his status as a doctor and allow him to go. Later, the PoS operator will discover that he or she has been duped,” Fayemi added.

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The state NSCDC Public Relations Officer, Tolulope Afolabi, in a statement, said the commandant spoke in Ado Ekiti while parading Ademiluyi and another suspected fraudster, Innocent Ekpako, 26, who was arrested in Cross River State for allegedly defrauding his boss.

The commandant, who said Ademiluyi had been perpetrating the act within the Ado Ekiti metropolis, said, “The suspect had defrauded over 25 PoS operators before men of the Counter-Terrorism Unit launched a manhunt for him with their dragnet, which paid off when he was arrested yesterday (Monday). Preliminary investigation shows that he is not a doctor but an okada rider.”

Fayemi said Ekpako, who was arrested in Ikom, Cross River State, ran away with a huge sum of money belonging to his master in Ado Ekiti.

He said, “The suspect is a former employee of a store in Ado Ekiti where he worked as a sales representative before he was sent on an errand with some money which he did not return. He disappeared into thin air until he was tracked, traced and arrested in Cross River State. The two suspects have confessed to the crime.”

The commandant cautioned PoS operators and shop owners in the state to be careful of their workers and customers as the state command had been inundated with complaints bordering on PoS fraud and stealing.

Punch

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