From Fred Ezeh and Susan Obaje, Abuja

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National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has said that no fewer than 8,257 suspected drug traffickers were arrested at different locations in 2016.
Breakdown of the figure indicated that 7,720 of the traffickers were male while 537 were female. The confiscated illicit drugs, according to the agency, weighed 263,947.57kg.
It included 305.166kg of cocaine, 66.283kg of heroine, 187,394.00kg of cannabis sativa, 1,352.56kg of methamphetamine, 718.265kg of ephedrine and 74,111.30kg of other sundry drugs.
NDLEA chairman, Muhammad Abdallah, disclosed in Abuja, yesterday, at a press conference to herald the 2017 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking with the theme “Listening to Children and Youths, the First Step to Help Them Grow Healthy and Safe.”
He said a comparative analysis of the agency’s operation in 2016 confirmed a marginal decline in arrest and seizures, attributing it to massive rural and urban advocacy by the agency.
He further disclosed that in 2015, suspected drug traffickers arrested were 8,778, comprising of 8,143 male and 635 female, while 903,624kg of illicit drugs were confiscated.
Comparatively, there was a significant reduction of 521 persons in the number of arrests made in 2016, while drug seizures also reduced by 639,677kg. This could also be due to updated strategies adopted by the agency in preventing cannabis cultivation.
Abdallah said they were able to take the battle to cannabis plantations located in different forests resulting in destruction of 718.78 hectares of cannabis plantation in 2016, when compared to 377.12 hectares destroyed in 2015.