UK’s new special relationship with Morocco is extending beyond just doing good business, as Rabat is showing that it wants to help British police catch criminals – even those who try to escape to Morocco, which, technically speaking, has no formal extradition treaty with Britain.
One of the UK’s most wanted fugitives has just been returned to the UK to stand trial over the horrific murder of an Essex man which wouldn’t have happened without the full support of Moroccan authorities, Maghrebi can reveal.
Nana Oppong, 43, from Newham in London, who featured in a National Crime Agency most wanted campaign, was stopped by Moroccan police officers in September 2022 at Tangier Port, after trying to enter the country using false documents, Maghrebi recently revealed on February 1st.
However, his presence on Moroccan soil was short lived.
Oppong was quickly escorted back to the UK by an extradition team from the NCA’s Joint International Crime Centre on Tuesday 20 June. He appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court the following day and was ordered to appear at Chelmsford Crown Court again on June 23rd, where he was remanded in custody.
According to UK police records, he was wanted by Essex Police in relation to the murder of 50-year-old Robert Powell, was shot eight times with a 9mm pistol outside a party in Water Lane, Roydon, Harlow, in June 2020.
The cooperation with the Moroccan police and the ‘extradition’ has produced a bevvy of jubilant comments from British diplomats, advisors and police officials who have heaped praise on Morocco and see the deportation from the country as a great step forward for London’s relations with Rabat.
The UK’s Ambassador to Morocco, Simon Martin CMG, said: “The UK enjoys a very positive relationship with Morocco across many areas, including working in partnership to tackle serious organised crime.
“The return of this suspect to the UK to face trial on these serious charges is a tangible result of that partnership. I am grateful for the cooperation of our Moroccan partners.”
A former senior advisor to the British Prime Minister, who preferred not to be named, welcomed the fantastic cooperation between the Moroccan and British law enforcement agencies but went further.
“This extradition shows just one of the many benefits to the UK of increasingly close cooperation between our countries. We can and must keep moving closer” he said
Oppong was also wanted by the Metropolitan Police Service following an investigation into his alleged use of encrypted messaging platform Encrochat. Following close liaison with the Crown Prosecution Service and Essex Police, the Met secured further charges of conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to enable others to endanger life, conspiracy to possess firearms, conspiracy to supply cocaine and money laundering.
Steve Reynolds, NCA regional manager in Spain, said: “Nana Oppong went to great lengths to evade capture by using false identity documents, but the NCA never gives up on finding fugitives wherever they try to hide.
“We have officers based all over the world, sharing intelligence and working with local law enforcement agencies to apprehend those on the run. Oppong has now been returned to the UK to face justice.”