Mistreatment of inmates was common, abuse frequent, and torture occasional.
In May 1987 at Benin prison, armed police killed twenty-four inmates rioting
over food supplies, and in 1988 a "secret" ten-year-old detention camp on Ita
Oko Island, off Lagos, was exposed and closed. Nearly 300 prisoners died of
"natural causes" in 1984, and 79 committed suicide, a dramatic increase from
the average of 12 suicides per year between 1980 and 1983.
Ikoyi alone recorded more than 300 deaths in 1988, and 42 deaths in the first
three months of 1989. In June 1989, the Civil Liberties Organisation filed suit
on behalf of 1,000 detainees held without trial at Ikoyi, charging the government
with mistreatment and urging that the 113-year-old prison be closed.