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No, top WHO official and former Nigeria CDC head Ihekweazu wasn’t hanged at Guantanamo Bay – claim by notorious disinformation site

IN SHORT: A known disinformation site has published the outright falsehood that a top WHO official from Nigeria has been executed by the US Navy. There is no truth to this.

The US Navy executed Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, a top World Health Organization (WHO) official and former head of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), at Guantanamo Bay on 3 February 2024.

This absurdly false claim has been circulating online in South Africa and elsewhere since 10 February.

Ihekweazu, an epidemiologist, is the assistant director-general for the health emergency intelligence and surveillance systems division at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. He also leads the WHO’s Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence, which produces data and analytics to detect and respond to health emergencies such as Covid.

As head of the NCDC, Ihekweazu led Nigeria’s public health response to the Covid pandemic. An Imperfect Storm, his memoir of this experience, will be published in 2024.

Ihekweazu’s work has made him a frequent target of Covid conspiracy theories.

The claim that he was executed at Guantanamo Bay comes from an article headlined JAG hangs WHO despot, published on the notorious disinformation site Real Raw News on 10 February.

The claim can also be seen here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Guantanamo Bay, known as Gitmo, is a US navy base and detention centre on the coast of Cuba. The Judge Advocate General’s Corps, or JAG, is the legal arm of the US Navy.

The article says “Gitmo sources” told Real Raw News that JAG hanged Ihekweazu on 3 February after he had “surreptitiously entered the United States to discuss enacting fresh shelter-in-place and vaccine mandates with the CDC’s nefarious Rapid Response Team”.

The US Centers for Disease Control’s Global Rapid Response Team tackles public health emergencies such as cholera, Covid, dengue, Ebola, famine, mass gatherings and natural disasters.

Real Raw News then gives a lurid description of Ihekweazu’s supposed hanging. But it never happened. 


Ihekweazu joins other public figures not hanged at Gitmo

If the US Navy had hanged a top WHO official at Guantanamo Bay it would have made headlines across the world. But there have been no credible news reports of this execution. 

It’s not the first time Real Raw News has claimed – entirely falsely – that a public figure was executed at Guantanamo Bay.

Other headlines on the site include Eric Holder Hanged at GITMO, Dick Cheney Hanged at GITMO, Dr. Francis Collins Hanged at GITMO, John Brennan Hanged at GITMO and Bill Gates Hanged at GITMO Ahead of Schedule. None of these are true accounts.

And Ihekweazu has been publicly active long after his supposed death on 3 February. He has, for example, posted dozens of times on his official X (formerly Twitter) account @Chikwe_I, including photos of himself at public events here, here and here.

On 13 February Ihekweazu delivered the opening remarks at the launch of the first global peer review of the WHO’s Universal Health and Preparedness Review.

And in early March he wrote an obituary for former Access Bank chief executive Herbert Wigwe, who died in a helicopter crash in the US state of California on 9 February, published by This Day and Nigeria Health Watch.

The claim is false.

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