Over Blackmail Attempts Maxim Brandwain Sets Record Straight
As the current leadership of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), and the Independent Media Commission (IMC), continue to work relentlessly to instil discipline, professionalism and accountability into the country’s media landscape, the attention of the journalism fraternity and all media stakeholders is drawn to the theme of this year’s SLAJ Annual General Meeting: ‘Post-Election 2018: The Media’s Role In Enhancing Democracy In Sierra Leone’. (Photo:Max Brandwain)
In all democratic free societies, a responsible media plays a very big role in shaping societal thinking and conduct by always endeavouring to present truthfully all sides of a story to the public. This enables the public to make informed judgement on issues; as well as how to assess personalities whose name appear in the news.
On the other hand, the media becomes a very dangerous instrument for evil if its practitioners choose for whatever reason to deviate from a diligent, honest search for the truth to telling plain lies in exchange for unearned pecuniary gains.
In which vein, it is very unfortunate that the Standard Times newspaper has lately resorted to a deliberate act of slander and defamation, in utter violation of the IMC Code of Conduct against the person and personality of Maxim Brandwain, for what its publisher was allegedly openly heard saying to the Manager of Mercury International, Rodney Michael, that he would only stop his slanderous publications against Maxim Brandwain in exchange for big money.
In the tabloid’s Monday July 16, 2018 publication, Standard Times carried a banner headline story captioned: ‘PHARMACY BOARD EMPOWERS MERCURY OWNER TO CULTIVATE & EXPORT DIAMBA’, with the insinuation that the Pharmacy Board had violated the country’s anti-drug laws.
The story starts by referencing an incident that occurred in Kono in 2016. The facts are these: illegal miners were mining under the Congo Bridge around the area called 55. The Standard Times story alleged that Pluto Mining Company, owned by Maxim, was doing the illegal mining when in actual fact it was the company that was repairing the bridge. Clearly, the reference to the incident which had to do with clashes between the local authorities and the illicit miners was intended to paint Maxim and his company in a bad light.
Maxim Brandwain, who is currently out of the country, has sworn that having no skeletons in his cupboard to hide, he will not bite, adding that this time, Standard Times and its publisher have grabbed a ferociously angry tiger by the tail and must hold on for their dear lives or face the worst legal consequence imaginable.
The motive behind the sustained Standard Times publications, clearly intended to blackmail Maxim Brandwain, has to do with Maxim’s need for a media campaign to publicize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes; something that has been scientifically researched in the West. Maxim believes in advocating for the legalization of the medical use of marijuana in the country, in line with what many other states in the USA and some other countries have done, would bring huge economic and health benefits to the country; as the herb and its medicinal products are known to cure many conditions, including asthma, cancer, etc.
Maxim expressed his interest in the discovery and his desire to champion its legalization in Sierra Leone with Michael Massaquoi, who has links with Standard Times. Smelling money, to extort money from Maxim, Michael allegedly told Maxim that he (Michael) had done a lot of publications for Maxim on the campaign and demanded payment for.
Maxim demanded that Michael bring the said publications before payment. Michael could not come forth with the publications according to Max. When he continued pestering Maxim for money, Maxim allegedly told him that he had already helped him with Le10 million, when he allegedly lied that his mother was dead. He said he will not give Michael a cent more.
Michael allegedly went on to employ the services of Standard Times to start publishing outlandish lies about Maxim being a marijuana farmer; that Max the marijuana planned to escape.
Standard Times bases its unfounded allegations against Maxim Brandwain on the grounds that the Sierra Leone Pharmacy Board, has against the laws of the land preventing marijuana growing and use in the country, granted Maxim a license to grow marijuana in the country for export.
Let it be known to the editor and publisher of Standard Times that it is downright unethical, unprofessional and unprincipled to publish a story about somebody without endeavouring at all cost to get that person’s own side of the story, if the motive behind such publication is not mischievous or sinister.
As stated above, there are states in the USA and countries that have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal use. Being an international businessman, Maxim saw the opportunity that this offered. He wrote to the Pharmacy Board requesting permission to grow marijuana for medicinal use.
The terms offered Maxim are expressly clear. All necessary legal and security measures are stipulated by the Pharmacy Board which meets all national legal and law enforcement provisions. They included:
The marijuana will only be permitted to be grown for export to countries that request it for medicinal use, formally from the Pharmacy Board through the Government of Sierra Leone.
The raw materials shall not be manufactured for use in Sierra Leone.
If the request is granted by the Pharmacy Board, the regulatory authority of the country, making the request for the product must ensure that the quantity requested was exported as requested.
To ensure that the license does not grow the marijuana for any other purpose, security arrangement of the site which should have CCTVs will be regularly assessed by the PB, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and the Sierra Leone Police to ensure strict compliance.
Meanwhile, Maxim Brandwain and his solicitors are considering the best options to pursue Standard Times, its editor and publisher.
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